'Trying to scrape by': Waterloo Region businesses devastated by Step 2 delay
WATERLOO -- The news that Waterloo Region will remain in Step 1 of the province's reopening plan dealt a devastating blow to some area businesses.
Personal care services and hair salons are among the places that will have to remain closed, while restaurants are still limited to four people per table on patios.
"It's brutal, it's another delay. And everyone had been anticipating moving to Stage 2 and being able to open up more," said Minto Schneider, chief executive of Explore Waterloo Region. "The good news is we aren't moving backwards into lockdown."
"We literally are breaking even right now. We need to be fully open or at least open doing everything that we can possibly do with masks on," said Carly Kuntz, owner of the Waters Spa in Waterloo. "We have been closed for 10 out of the past 16 months for esthetic services, so we are just trying to scrape by and trying to keep our business open."
Kuntz says she feels incredibly let down Waterloo Region won't move into Step 2 next week.
"It's very disheartening to call our guests month after month and postpone, postpone, postpone," she said.
In Waterloo Region, it is hoped businesses forced to keep waiting to reopen will get some help.
"We do have a meeting lined up with the Premier's office tomorrow, so we are looking to try to find out if there will be more support available," Schneider said.
Also impacted are businesses that are currently open with capacity limits. In Step 2, outdoor dining can expand from four people per table to six.
Indoor dining will be allowed in Step 3.
"The longer it takes to get in and out of phase two, the longer it takes to get to phase three and that's really where we want to be," said Kirk Vines, Beertown Waterloo's operating partner.
Vines says many restaurants are still struggling despite patio dining being allowed.
"Most of them still don't have all of their staff back and most of them are on shoestring budgets, and most of them don't have any cash in the bank and I don't know how well that is understood," he said.
As Waterloo Region is held back from Step 2, neighbouring communities, including Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph and Huron-Perth, are moving ahead to the next phase of reopening.
"Certainly I don't think we should be complacent," said Dr. Nicola Mercer, medical officer of health of Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph. "Follow public health measures, listen to the rules, keep your distance, don't invite lots of people to your home, don't take your mask off when you are amongst strangers."