Ottawa

For reopening businesses, there's a mix of optimism and nerves

A slate of new Ottawa businesses — including tennis clubs and retail stores with street entrances — will be able to reopen Tuesday, but some say they're still nervous about how it will all play out.

Ontario now in 1st phase of relaunching economy

Rachel Cruickshank, head pro at the Elmdale Tennis Club, says teaching will be very different this year given the physical distancing measures in place. (Submitted)

A slate of new Ottawa businesses will be able to reopen Tuesday, but some say they're still nervous about how it will all play out.

Last week the Ford government announced the first phase of its plan to relaunch Ontario's economy while also keeping the number of COVID-19 cases manageable. 

On Saturday, private campgrounds, marinas and golf courses were among the businesses that could reopen. Tuesday will see more recreational facilities like off-leash dog parks, sports fields and tennis clubs added to that list.

"It'll definitely be a different season than we've ever seen," said Rachel Cruickshank, head pro and instructor at the Elmdale Tennis Club. 

The club has put new measures in place to keep everyone safe, Cruickshank said, including an online booking system and a five-minute break between matches so that players can switch off safely.

Only singles tennis is allowed, not doubles, and players will have to bring their own balls, Cruickshank said. During lessons, her students will also be required to maintain a safe distance.

"It will be incredibly challenging," she said.

"I'm very hands on, as a lot of other coaches are, [since] you want to be close and correct the technique ... you're handling their racket, you're physically demonstrating the stroke to them very close."

As of Tuesday, retail outlets with streetside entrances will be able to reopen as part of the first phase of the Ontario government's plan to restart the economy. (Justin Tang/Canadian Press)

Hard to get PPE

Also on Tuesday, retail stores with street entrances that aren't in shopping malls will be allowed to open.

"Everyone has some cautious optimism that the door's open, and at least we can start seeing some sales again and some money staying in the local economy," said Mark Kaluski, chair of the Ottawa Coalition of Business Improvement Areas.

One of the "biggest challenges" facing those businesses, however, is securing enough personal protective equipment (PPE) for staff, Kaluski said.

"In the non-medical grade, everyone [is] competing for the same few suppliers," he said. "People are competing with with large chains."

Kaluski said the coalition has been able to locate one source for PPE and has been helping smaller retailers acquire what they need to open. 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Natalia is a multi-platform journalist in Ottawa. She has also worked for CBC in P.E.I. and Newfoundland and Labrador.

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