The first step, tentatively scheduled to take effect on June 14, would allow alfresco dining with a limit of four people per table and non-essential retail stores to open at 15 percent capacity.
Cheryl Walker, owner of Cloth, a women’s clothing store in downtown Kingston, says she believes the province could afford to open sometime before mid-June.
Walker says the 15% capacity translates to about four customers in her store at any given time, and while she’s done well with curbside pickup, online orders, and delivery, in-store shopping does. the difference.
“They want to touch and smell the clothes, they want to try it on, you know, then bring it home,” Walker said.
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“So obviously if we were open we would do a lot better.”
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Oscar Malan, owner of Novel Idea, Kingston’s independent bookstore, calls the past 15 months of owning a business during the pandemic a working game that’s been half as hard to win.
When it comes to opening his store doors in a few weeks, he says communication and messaging from the provincial government has been poor.
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“They’ve been so intermittent and they’ve changed their minds so many times that I’ve pretty much stopped looking,” said Malan, referring to the province’s three-stage plan to reopen.
“I’m just going to open when they make it clear that I can open, because frankly, I’ve been disappointed several times before.”
Each step with a gradual easing of restrictions lasts at least 21 days and requires vaccination benchmarks and what the provincial government calls positive trends in public health and health system indicators.
Personal care establishments such as barber shops and cruise lines will not open until Stage Two takes effect the first week of July at the earliest.
Gananoque 1000 Islands Chamber of Commerce executive director Amy Kirkland said the shortened tourist season and limited capacity will be difficult for operators for a second consecutive season.
“The Gananoque, Kingston and Rockport boat lines (are) operate at 52 people with a capacity of 500, so here’s the problem – nothing is helping them,” Kirkland said.
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She says that’s why they lobbied their MP, Michael Barrett, to replace loans from the Canada Emergency Business Account with grants to businesses that have been hit hardest by the pandemic.
Kirkland says the Thousand Islands, Gananoque and Ontario Chambers of Commerce would also like to see a third round of grants from the provincial government.
“These grant opportunities have kept the doors open,” Kirkland said. “When you get $ 10 to $ 20,000 and are able to pay your rent, mortgages, and basic bills, that really helps.”
The third stage of the province’s reopening, which would allow eating indoors as well as opening museum galleries and libraries, at best, will not begin until late July or early August.
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