Businesses that can't open for months disappointed in reopening plan

Businesses in Ottawa are disappointed after being pushed to the third phase of Ontario's reopening plan, but say they are not surprised.

Ottawa business owners frustrated after being pushed to phase 3 of roadmap plan

Indoor dining at restaurants are slated to open in phase three of Ontario's reopening plan, which could take months. That's leaving some business owners frustrated. (Brian Morris/CBC)

Business owners in Ottawa that are not scheduled to reopen until the third phase of Ontario's reopening plan are expressing disappointment, but many say they are not surprised by yet another extension of their closure.

"I'm not really surprised," said Jenna Ladd, owner of Iron North fitness studio. "I've been pretty steadfast in saying that we won't have an opportunity to reopen before July."

Ontario Premier Doug Ford and Health Minister Christine Elliott laid out a three-step plan to reopen the province on Thursday. Business owners were looking forward to June 2, when the current stay-at-home order is scheduled to end.

However, outdoor dining for restaurants will be allowed starting mid June, with limits of four people per table, according to the province's roadmap. Indoor dining among other indoor businesses like gyms, casinos and cinemas are slated to open in phase three of the plan — which could be well into August or possibly later when 70 to 80 per cent of adults have one dose, and 25 per cent are fully vaccinated. 

There is no concrete date yet for when this phase will start, which only adds to the growing frustration among business owners. 

"I'm going crazy. We can't take it anymore. We need to go back to business," said Lydia Nganga, the owner of Lydia Beauty Salon. Personal care services like hair salons can reopen during phase two of the plan — with capacity limits and face masks.

"This time if they open, they should open for good." 

Sarah Chown, the Ottawa chair of the Ontario Restaurant Hotel & Motel Association and a restaurant owner, said the uncertainty makes planning a reopening a lot harder.

"It's tough for people to plan, especially those folks that don't have access to patio dining. It's going to be a long way, potentially till the end of July, for them to get to that point where they can have indoor dining," said Chown. 

"It's tough for them to see the light at the end of the road, even though they're being told there is one."

Lee Demarbre, who owns the Mayfair Theatre on Bank Street, says he's tired of the constant opening and closing of businesses. (Jonathan Dupaul/CBC)

Lee Demarbre, owner of Ottawa's Mayfair Theatre, said he is tired of the constant back and forth.

"I want this to be my last reopening," said Demarbre. "We've been following the rules and after a year, it still seems like the [authorities] ... have no idea what they're doing. We did our part, it's time to do their part."

Fitness studio owner Ladd said she's now learned how to live with the uncertainty.

"We're used to reopening and then closing again on short notice. One of the shortest notices we had to shut down was eight hours."

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