Businesses brace for closures under stay-at-home order

Small business owners in Waterloo Region are bracing for another shutdown this week.

The provincial government enacted a month-long stay-at-home order on Wednesday afternoon that will go into effect on Thursday at 12:01 a.m.

Under the province-wide shutdown that came into effect last weekend, non-essential retail stores could stay open at 25 per cent capacity. However, they will need to change to curbside pickup only under the new order.

Laura Malek, who owns The Sharing Squirrel in Cambridge, said said she's hoping online shopping and curbside pickup will keep them going.

"It's getting harder, for sure," Malek said. "We were on board and really willing to do whatever it took and whatever was safe the first time around, the second time around and we will again. We'll continue to do it because I think it's important for our community, but it's definitely getting tougher on us."

Malek said they've worked hard to keep the store safe, including keeping a close eye on how many people are inside the store at a time.

She said the last year in business was the hardest she's ever worked in her life.

"I thought we had dodged a bullet and we had already been shut down and only open for six weeks," said Jennifer Devitt, owner of Devitt House. "We were looking forward to some good Mother's Day

Starting Thursday, all their sales will shift online.

"I've got literally a thousand products that are not on our website that could have been, had I known what to expect," Devitt said.

The Canadian Federation of Independent Business said owners have worked hard to follow guidelines meant to keep their stores safe, because the stakes are high.

"We're talking about people's livelihoods here," said Ryan Mallough with the CFIB. "Oftentimes the business owner has sold a major asset, put a second mortgage on the house, looked to friends and family for support. So, there's a lot on the line here. They really are doing everything that's in their power to stay open."

Big box stores will only be able to sell essential goods.

"Watching people pour out of Costco or Walmart with loads of household goods when they assumption was you were just getting groceries, that was a bit hard to take," Devitt said.