Staying safe while supporting local this holiday season
FERGUS -- Christmas is a little over a month away and holiday shopping has already begun.
Small business owners say they're struggling and need support, but there's also a fine line when it comes to supporting their towns.
"The next five weeks leading up to Christmas are really important for small businesses," said Brittany Burgess with the St. Jacobs Village BIA Events Community.
This year's St. Jacobs Sparkles events are dialled back, and print and broadcast commercials are no longer actively advertised across Ontario.
"Especially with the rise in case numbers we have focused on more local marketing," Burgess said.
Although out-of-towners won't be turned away, many want people to shop local and stay local.
"Since COVID came our downtown policy and the policy with Centre-Wellington Tourism was just to advertise locally, but we are only an hour out of Toronto so a lot of people still are coming this way," said Kimberley Jefferson, Fergus BIA Chair.
The traditional late night sip and shop is still scheduled for next week, with live music, outdoor activities and extended retail hours. Jefferson said they decided to spread out the event, hosting it on four nights instead of one to allow for more distancing options.
The St. Jacobs Village Biergarten only allows people to eat if they've had a temperature check.
"I am OK with them coming in, we've implemented certain protocols to make sure everyone is safe no matter where you're from," general manger Rob Brown said.
Elora's annual Starlight Shopping will continue with some changes. Many small businesses are concerned about future restrictions or closures and are asking shoppers to support them sooner rather than later.
"It's easy to click and order online, but all of the local businesses topically offer similar products and we really want people to keep their money here," Elora BIA Chair MacLean Hann said.
"You can spread joy, wear a mask, don't spread germs," Jefferson said. "That's all that we're asking."
The Region of Waterloo and Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph health officials are advising residents in high-risk regions to stay home.