Waterloo Region moves into red 'control' tier under province's COVID-19 framework
KITCHENER -- New COVID-19 restrictions took effect in Waterloo Region on Monday after the province moved the area into the red tier under its Keeping Ontario Safe and Open COVID-19 framework.
The red tier is just one away from a lockdown, something that Toronto and Peel Region are both experiencing after a rise in cases over the past few weeks.
As a result, many region residents were out trying to cross things off their Christmas shopping checklists in an effort to support local businesses.
The red "restrict" tier doesn't mean that businesses have to close, but it means they have to keep people at least two metres apart. Shop owners also have to have a safety plan to prove that customers are doing so, including in line when waiting outside.
At Gifted in Waterloo, owner Sylvia Horne is having people line up outside and is urging people to follow the rules so she can continue operating.
"I don't love having to limit two people in the store and having a line-up of 30 out the door," she admitted, but said it's important that people follow the rules.
"Make sure you wear your mask, you make sure you sanitize even if you don't feel that it's the right thing for you to personally do, it's the right thing for everyone else in our shop to do. This is our second home, right, this is my home away from home, so it's just being respectful of that too."
She said she has also had dozens of people order ahead to pick up their Christmas gifts.
Leah Klassen stopped at Gifted on Monday to shop local and support a small business,
"You have to be willing to pay a little but more money, because small stores don't have the resources that Costco does or Walmart," she said. "But, I think it's worth it because these are the places in your community that make it unique."
Badder Jamali, manager of Chopan Kebab, said regular customers have been ordering takeout more often.
"We don't have our dine-in space being utilized right now," Jamali said. "We're basically relying only on our patrons coming in and getting takeout."
Tourism in Waterloo Region has taken a hit. Explore Waterloo Region CEO Minto Schneider is encouraging people to visit open tourists sites while they're still open.
"What we are trying to do with our partners, as well as with consumers, is let everyone know what is safe to do and how to do it safely," Schneider said.
Two local F45 gyms said they took action early on, so nothing will change in terms of safety protocols as the region moves into the red tier.
However, co-owner Brittany McLean said classes are now capped at 10 people. People need to complete a COVID-19 screening before coming in and people must work out in their own square with their own equipment.
Gyms also require three metres of space between people working out.