The Broadview and Gladstone Hotels close in Toronto despite being essential businesses
While it feels like the majority of businesses in Ontario are shuttered indefinitely in light of the 2019 novel coronavirus outbreak, a few that offer what have been deemed "essential" products and services have been allowed to remain open to the public.
One service that Premier Doug Ford has considered essential under the province's strict state of emergency is accommodation, listed as "hotels, motels, shared rental units and similar facilities, including student residences" by the province.
Despite this, a handful of Toronto's most popular independent hotels have still decided to close their doors.
To our West Queen West & Parkdale Community, The hotel’s public operations are currently on pause as part of the national response to COVID-19. We’re looking up to our mural by Shepard Fairey, knowing that our community will find a way to Rise Above during this difficult time. We’ll open our doors to everyone again as soon as it’s safe to do so. Until then, we hope everyone stays safe and healthy. -Team Gladstone Mural by @obeygiant #gladstonehotel #westqueenwest #parkdale #obey
The Annex Hotel, the Broadview Hotel and the Gladstone Hotel (the last two of which have the same owners) have all decided to temporarily suspend operations in the interest of the health and safety of the public and their staff.
The first of the three, which just opened in fall 2018, actually shut down before bars and restaurants in the city were instructed to limit service to takeout and delivery only earlier this month.
"We have some pretty good access to information and we all felt pretty strongly that it was heading in that direction," Trevor Speis, one of the Annex's owners, says. "We wanted to be leaders and encourage others to do the same."
The team made the decision due to the fact that their business by nature catered to the demographic that was most at risk of spreading COVID-19: travelers (though community spread has now, weeks later, also become a major concern).
"It was really difficult for us to put ourselves in a position where we’d have to have our staff interacting with strangers coming from all over the world," Speis says. "The social responsibility was really evident."
Meanwhile a little south and west of the Annex, Toronto's iconic 19-room Drake Hotel has decided to stay open to offer its accommodation services to "essential service workers and stranded travellers," though it currently has very low occupancy and new cleanliness and operational measures in place.
"The Drake Hotel has been, and will be there for our guests at the best of times and the worst of times," Melanie Coates, the Drake's executive director of revenue and growth, says. "The Government of Ontario deemed hotels among essential services and we operate, therefore, with this higher ideal in mind."
Its dining areas and venue space remain closed at this time, aside from food takeout and delivery.
The Broadview Hotel, Streetcar Developments and Dream's priority is our guests' and employees' health and safety. As a result, The Broadview Hotel, The Civic Restaurant, The Bistro+Bar and The Rooftop will temporarily suspend Operation, effective Tuesday, March 17th, until the current situation subsides. We feel this is the only responsible action to be taken under these circumstances to mitigate the transmission of this global virus. We recognize that the passion and creativity of our team are the heart and soul of our community, and we will be here to serve you when it is safe for everyone to do so. We are grateful to our suppliers, partners, staff and guests for their continuous support. We are hopeful that these challenging times fighting Coronavirus will come to an end, but to reduce the spreading, let's choose to be safe and not sorry. Our actions can save lives, so we ask you, with sincerity, take social distancing very seriously, and let us get through this together. We wish you and your families health and safety 💕 Should you have any questions please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Though it's unclear exactly how long this new, socially distant normal — and the closures of places like the Annex, Broadview and Gladstone — will last, businesses are making do under the current circumstances by finding new, innovative and safe ways to keep going.
Speis points out that despite the fact that closing down so early into the Annex's lifespan has been "devastating," the hotel may be able to re-open ahead of other businesses because of its high-tech, low-touch model.
"Guests don’t really have to speak to anyone if they don’t want to," he says, adding that the team is in the process of planning ramped up sanitization and other measures for potential re-opening as soon they believe it prudent to do so.
Hector Vasquez at the Annex Hotel
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