MONTREAL – After Quebec Premier François Legault on Wednesday said his government was considering the idea of a “circuit breaker” lockdown, business owners in the retail world immediately pushed back.
A shutdown for part of December and January is not the answer, they said, at least not as Legault described it on Wednesday – with all but the major businesses closed.
This system will put local businesses at a disadvantage while giving US retail giants an advantage, David Bensadoun, CEO of Aldo Group, argued in an interview with CTV News.
The problem, he said, is the idea of leaving huge stores open like Walmart because they sell food alongside a lot of other non-essential consumer items.
“The majority of big box stores, which governments seem to be more comfortable with, are owned by Americans, and the majority of specialty stores are owned by Canadian companies,” Bensadoun said.
“So when the government starts to choose between the mall and the big box Walmart or the big box Costco or the big box Home Depot, you can see that you start to run into this selection and choice problem that you should live with. and who should die. ”
Some experts have called for a short-term lockdown as a way to stop the transmission of the virus more effectively, while causing less long-term economic damage, than the current semi-lockdown for Montreal and other areas of the red zone. .
The Canadian Federation of Independent Business said half of its members are in financial difficulty and likely won’t survive a second shutdown similar to the spring, especially if competitors stay open.
Small retailers, especially in the fashion industry, have also argued that in a small store it’s easier to control who comes in, who goes out and how much distance shoppers keep from each other than in a stylish store. warehouse.
On Wednesday, Legault said his government was asking police to start imposing larger and more frequent fines on rule-breaking buyers and others in order to bring the spread of COVID-19 under control and, ideally, avoid tighter lockdown.