Businesses preparing for possibility of moving into red tier
Published Tuesday, November 17, 2020 6:22PM EST Last Updated Tuesday, November 17, 2020 6:52PM EST
KITCHENER -- Businesses in Waterloo Region are bracing for the possibility of moving into the red tier of the province's COVID-19 restrictions.
The Medical Officer of Health asked the province to move into the red "control" tier as cases continue to spike, meaning tightened rules for sectors already hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Businesses said they're preparing for tighter rules and some have decided to pre-emptively close their doors for now.
The region moved into the orange tier on Monday, but that came with an immediate caveat to prepare to move into red.
"It's a very unique position we find ourselves in as small business owners because we do have the best interest of the community at heart and at the same time we do just want to keep our lights on," said Carly Blasutti, co-owner of Public Kitchen and Bar.
Under red restrictions, restaurants can only seat 10 people indoors at a time. They must close at 10 p.m. and liquor sales end at 9 p.m.
Blasutti said she's now debating what to do next, considering opening for lunch but closing at dinner time.
"For space like ours, with the staff we'd have to employ, it's really difficult to make that work," she said.
She said they'll shift their eventing focus to takeout orders.
Gyms and fitness facilities will also face restrictions if the region moves to red. Classes are kept at 10 people indoors and 25 outdoors.
Indoor areas with weights or exercise equipment are also capped at 10 people.
"We are going to have to change our personal training, we're going to have to have sign ups for the gym, which we haven't had to do yet," said Kerri Hallman, owner of Fitness 360.
Hallman said the red tier will be difficult.
"People are going to get nervous again and back off their memberships and not be able to use what they want," she said.
Cinemas will need to close under the red restrictions. On Monday night, Apollo Cinema said it was closing temporarily amid the pandemic.
"We have a pretty big theatre, so we weren't very stressed about the idea of still being open," general manager Cara Watson said. "But, asking people to come out when there's so much risk, it's just not worth it."
Drive-in theatres can stay open in the red tier.
Apollo will offer popcorn pickup on Saturdays, along with virtual screenings and other promotions.
"Everybody stay home, be safe and come back to us when this is over," Watson said.
Officials will announce later this week if Waterloo Region will move into the red tier.
If the province agrees that the move is necessary, businesses could qualify for some monetary support.