'It's difficult to plan anything': Indoor businesses feeling left behind in provincial reopening plan
KITCHENER -- As Ontario prepares to enter Step 1 of its reopening plan on Friday, many business owners are frustrated and disappointed they aren't included in the list of what's allowed to operate.
From indoor fitness facilities to gymnastic studios to dance academies, many businesses will have to wait until later in the summer to reopen under the province's three-staged plan.
For dancers in Waterloo Region, it's unclear when they'll be able to bust a move inside a studio again.
"I would usually dance about five days a week which would usually add up to 12 to 15 hours a week," said Charlotte Riordan, 12, who has been dancing competitively since she was five. "It's one of my favourite things to do because of the people there and the community."
Laura Ramsay, owner of Grand River Academy of Dance, says in the past 15 months, her business has been open for only 17 weeks.
"We got to operate from mid-September to mid-December and then I had five weeks with my competitive team from the middle of February to the end of March," Ramsay said.
Indoor dance classes are not allowed until Step 3 of the province's reopening plan. Ontario is expected to stay in each step for at least 21 days before moving to the next.
"We can't be indoors and I don't have the facilities to run outdoor camps for my kids," Ramsay said. "The guidelines aren't released yet for us to know what we are allowed to do. It's difficult to plan anything."
Although outdoor fitness classes are allowed in Step 1, Ramsay says that's just not possible for her business.
"Part of the reason for that is for injury prevention. I have special sprung floors inside my studio that help mitigate the issues of joints on the dancers when they jump and they dance. We can't do that outside, tarmac is not safe and grass is not safe, it's uneven," she said.
The dance studio owner is bracing for a long road to recovery once she can reopen.
"I'm thinking it will probably be an 18 to 24-month rebuild before I'm back to where I was pre-pandemic," Ramsay said.