toronto lockdown

Toronto and Peel's small businesses have had enough after 100 days of lockdown

The body representing independent businesses in Canada is asking the government of Ontario to loosen lockdown restrictions, saying owners of stores, restaurants and other establishments have "had enough" of the forced closures that have now surpassed a staggering 100 days for most in the the regions of Toronto and Peel.

"What was supposed to be only a couple of weeks has now extended into a fourth month," the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) said in an offical statement issued Wednesday.

"As each deadline has come and gone, officials have told small business owners to hang on just a little bit longer, only to have the football pulled away at the last minute each time."

The organization points out that mayors such as Mississauga's Bonnie Crombie have avidly supported reopening ASAP for the well-being of constituents and for fear that even more businesses will be lost forever.

According to Statistics Canada numbers from September 2020, more than 25,000 have already closed in Ontario alone.

"To ensure Ontarians have jobs to come back to, CFIB calls on the province to permanently replace lockdowns with other COVID measures in all regions, including rapid testing, screening and contact tracing while it immediately improves all the critical economic support programs for small business," the open letter contines.

It also calls for more governmental support through things such as grants for small businesses, some of which have been closed for a devastating 80 per cent of the pandemic.

More than 45 businesses in Toronto and Peel demanded back in December that they be allowed to reopen after having to close in-person services as part of grey zone lockdown on Nov. 23.

Hudson's Bay even moved forward with legal action against the province for what it considered "unfair" closures despite the fact that data showed "retail shoppers are not contributing to COVID-19 spread in any significant way" and that restricting opening hours would only make risk of infection worse.

Hair salons and barbershops, meanwhile, started a campaign to share COVID stats to show how safe their workplace settings really were, with the vast majority of them reporting zero cases in the weeks they were allowed to open during the summer months.

Under the new grey zone, which Toronto and Peel may be entering into from the current full blanket shutdown and stay-at-home order on March 8, non-essential retailers can open with extremely limited capacities of 25 per cent, whereas they could not do so in the previous iteration of grey.

Bars, restaurants, meeting and event spaces, businesses offering personal care services, gambling establishments, gyms and other types of outlets will have to remain closed, though, unless we are able to move directly into the red zone, as regions like Hamilton, Durham and York did.

Lead photo by

Fareen Karim

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