SOUTH DUNDAS – The EOHU region and Ottawa have lower COVID-19 infection numbers than in the Greater Toronto Area, leaving many local business owners calling the lockdown hitting Eastern Ontario unfair.
“I’ve been in business for 52 years and they’ve always told us it’s the small business people who are the engine of the economy, they keep the economy going. Now that’s just gone by the wayside,” said Bo Gale, who owns Bo’s Barber Shop in Morrisburg. “They’re letting the Walmarts and Costcos stay open, where there’s hundreds of people walking by everybody, but not small businesses. I don’t understand government.”
He said the lockdown is going to hurt financially, just as it did in the spring, but didn’t see the need for the lockdown measures province-wide.
“Keep their problem issues in Toronto, look after Toronto. Don’t worry about us down here,” Gale said. “This is from the people who aren’t following the rules. Like they say, it’s the bad apples that spoil it for everyone.”
Another retailer who was shocked at the shutdown closure list is Morrisburg Home Hardware owner Dwayne Sprague. Hardware stores were not included as an essential business and will have to switch to curbside pickup or delivery only.
“I really feel that hardware stores are essential,” Sprague told The Leader. “If someone needs a plumbing fix or an electrical fix, it’s difficult to do over the phone or at a pick up window.”
He said the financial impact of a 28-day shutdown will impact the store “greatly.”
During the first lockdown, Sprague said sales dropped dramatically with the move to curbside pickup and he expects it to occur again with this lockdown.
During his announcement Monday afternoon, Ford said that January was a slow month for retailers.
Sprague responded that the lockdown will include Boxing Day, which many retailers including himself, count on.
He said he hoped that the government will reconsider the essential services classification and allow hardware stores to reopen to in-person shopping.
Sprague was optimistic that the business will rebound after the lockdown is lifted.
“We’ve done it before, and we’ll do it again,” he said.