toronto lockdown

Toronto businesses devastated by news that the city is staying in extended lockdown

The province has officially decided to hold Toronto under heavy-handed lockdown and a stay-at-home order for at least two weeks longer than expected, and local businesses are feeling let down, to say the least.

Premier Doug Ford made the announcement on Friday, preventing Toronto — as well as Peel and North Bay Parry Sound — from entering the province's colour-coded reopening framework as we were supposed to on Feb. 22.

All other regions of the province have been permitted to shed the provincewide blanket lockdown and stay-at-home order that went into effect on Boxing Day, even if it just means progressing to Ontario's Grey-Lockdown zone, in which little changes aside from non-essential retailers being able to open to 25 per cent capacity.

Stores in Toronto and Peel were hoping for that small chance to start their recovery from a harrowing year, while other types of businesses saw the end of the blanket shutdown and the return of the framework as a glimmer of hope that they, too, could resume operations soon.

Many have already responded to the news with dismay and anger, though perhaps not shock, as Toronto Mayor John Tory and Medical Officer of Health Dr. Eileen de Villa had been asking the province to reconsider their plan to lift the shutdown and stay-at-home order in the city this coming week.

The Canadian Federation Of Independent Business released a formal statement in response to the news almost immediately, claiming that the provincial government "has once again chosen to use small business as cannon fodder, renewing its reputation as the least small business-friendly government in the country during the pandemic."

"Being asked to just hang in there a little longer is an unacceptable and downright insulting response to the thousands of employers and their tens of thousands of employees whose livelihoods are on the line," the letter continues, pointing out that our lockdown and the extended damage to businesses has lasted longer than most places in the world.

"It is unconscionable that this government has not come up with an alternative to lockdowns, while dismissing even the most modest proposals to allow for a limited head count or by-appointment in-store service."

Salons in Toronto illustrated with stats how their settings contribute minimally, if at all, to virus spread, while other companies are taking legal action against what they consider to be unfair lockdown measures that target certain businesses and harm the smallest among them.

"The Ontario Government's health data shows the retail shoppers are not contributing to COVID-19 spread in any significant way," Hudson's Bay wrote in a statement back in December.

More than 25,000 businesses in Ontario have had to permanently shut down due to the pandemic and government-mandated closures, while countless more are barely getting by with the help of government subsidies and meagre online sales.

Lead photo by

Hector Vasquez

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