Tourism dollars lost at local businesses after delayed reopening
Local businesses are playing catch up this year, especially for summer tourism dollars, following a delayed reopening in Waterloo Region.
The area moved into Step 2 on Monday.
Explore Waterloo Region CEO Minto Schneider said many businesses weren't happy about the decision to delay Step 2 locally due to the spread of the Delta variant. However, she said they recognize it was needed to get case counts under control and increase vaccination rates.
"I think people are going to be cautious going out anywhere initially anyway, but at least they will be able to make plans, they will be able to book plans," she said.
Even though Waterloo Region is a Delta variant hot spot, Schneider doesn't think that will keep day trippers away from the area. Instead, she believes businesses will focus on promoting tourism after a delayed start to the summer season.
"They've probably lost five, six weeks of revenue-producing time where they would be able to put aside the revenues to last them through the winter season," she said. "So, that's the big thing, opening sooner, as in going into Step 3 with the rest of the province, was very welcome news."
At the St. Jacobs Farmers' Market, a popular spot for shoppers and day-trippers, local vendors are happy to be back in business.
"They're actively playing catch up," said Megan Malcolmson, the market's manager. "We have some vendors where their first day open since March was today and they are very excited to be open."
"I think it's hurt a lot of small local businesses, that just shows by even not as many vendors here, but it would be a stigma to not come down here," said Goderich resident Tracy Van Diepen, who was shopping at the market on Tuesday. "We didn't really know what to expect."
On Tuesday, public health officials confirmed Waterloo Region will move into Step 3 with the rest of Ontario on Friday at 12:01 a.m.
Staff at The Museum in Kitchener are busy preparing to welcome back visitors on Friday after being closed since the fall.
"The summer tourism season is our biggest season by far and those eight to 10 weeks in a given summer will drive 40 to 50 per cent of our revenue," said David Marskell, The Museum's chief executive. "As this has dragged on, it's certainly started to impact our bottom line. Our yearly fiscal has just begun July 1st so we are ready to go."
Here's what will be allowed as of Friday at 12:01 a.m.:
- Social gatherings and public events are capped at 25 people indoors and 100 people outdoors
- Indoor religious services or ceremonies are limited to the number of people able to maintain two metres of physical distancing.
- Retail and indoor and outdoor dining will be limited to the number of people able to maintain two metres of physical distancing
- Dance floors can operate as long as people can maintain two metres of physical distancing, with a maximum capacity of 50 per cent indoors and outdoors
- Personal care services can operate at reduced capacity, as long as clients and staff can maintain two metres of physical distancing. They will also be able to offer services requiring the removal of a mask
- Sports and recreation facilities can reopen with capacity limited to 50 per cent indoors. Spectators are limited to 50 per cent of indoor seating capacity, up to 1,000 people and 50 per cent of outdoor seating capacity, up to 10,000 people
- Sports can operate with restrictions on contact
- Cinemas, museums, galleries, aquariums, zoos, science centres, landmarks, historic sites, outdoor amusement parks, water parks, and gardens will be permitted to operate with capacity limited to 50 per cent indoors and 50 per cent outdoors, with additional restrictions
- Casinos can reopen at 50 per cent capacity
- Strip clubs can operate with a limited capacity allowing for two metres of physical distancing
With files from CTV Toronto.