Some Guelph businesses push to stay open during stay-at-home order
GUELPH -- A few Guelph businesses are trying to stay opening during the provincial stay-at-home order, while the city’s mayor is asking for doors to stay shut and everyone to be patient.
Multiple business owners took to the streets of Guelph on Saturday to protest and advocate to stay open during the latest round of pandemic restrictions.
Derrick Rutherford and Julio Rodriguez, owners of Valentini Hair Design, say they were ticketed without warning after they stayed open at the start of the latest emergency brake.
“To our knowledge, we are the only business in town that has received a ticket,” said Rutherford.
The City of Guelph says only one business was ticketed between March 25 and Apr. 5.
Rutherford and Rodriguez say their business and industry have made numerous adjustments, like maintaining distance between clients, constant sanitization, ensuring PPE is worn, and implementing other safety measures.
“We spent all this money, we’ve had all the training, we have all the education to keep all our staff safe and our clients safe,” said Rutherford. “Yet we’re targeted.”
Piatto Pizzeria owner Jay Vallis also attended Saturday’s protest advocating for outdoor dining after she worked out a patio plan with the city.
“We opened up mid-pandemic, we were in $600,000 at this point so we had no choice but to open,” she said. “Why is it that we do everything that we can to keep everybody safe and we can’t have people sit on a patio?”
Vallis is also calling on the provincial government for subsidy eligibility since, as a new business, she says she doesn’t have years to show for.
“We wrote Doug Ford a message,” she said. “Every MPP we could get an e-mail for, we have heard back from a couple but the answer is you don’t qualify and that’s it, it’s cut and dry.”
Guelph Mayor Cam Guthrie says he has voiced his concern with provincial and federal representatives, but ultimately, the city’s hands are tied and businesses need to keep their doors shut for now.
“I have absolute huge empathy and frustration alongside all businesses that are going through this,” he said. “We need everyone to play by the rules right now, but that doesn’t mean we stay silent on advocating for their issues up to the upper levels of government. I will continue to do that as I have been over the last year.”
While there are no plans for Valentini and Piatto to break the rules, the owners say the both hope change will come sooner rather than later.