Grey Bruce moves from green to shutdown

Grey Bruce will move from the green zone to a shutdown as part of the province-wide shutdown announced Thursday.

Many business owners reacted with frustration and shock over the news, suggesting the Ontario government left them hanging with no forewarning.

Bruce Melhuish just finished stocking the cooler at his restaurant in The Blue Mountains in preparation for a busy Easter weekend. Now the Sunset Grill owner is stuck with thousands of dollars worth of food that would have been served in his dining room.

"Five-thousand eggs, 900 pounds of potatoes, over 250 loaves of bread, 80 litres of juice, and that's the perishable stuff. I've got lettuce, I've got tomatoes," he says with disappointment. "That's where the money is that can't be saved. We can try and donate as much of it as we can, but it's tough."

Grey Bruce has been one of the few regions in the green zone across the province where life had some semblance of normalcy.  It was snatched away with one pump of the province's emergency brake.

Melhuish says the premier isn't doing enough to help small businesses. "He's giving small business grants. We blow through half of that just in inventory. Wow. And for 28 days, who's going to pay for the rest of the stuff? It's just hard. Hard... hard for everybody involved."

The province's Small Business Support Grant is still open for applications to be submitted and offers up to $20,000 to eligible businesses impacted by the shutdowns.

In Thornbury, Jennifer White is scrambling to look at all her options to avoid depleting her bank account. "If you don't have savings and you can't manage to the penny, then you are going to have a hard time surviving these lockdowns," says White, who owns The Orchid Restaurant. "It's coming right down to pinching a penny," she adds.

In Meaford, Leaky Canoe owner Valerie Leming says they will focus on takeout to get through the next 28 days. "We have a loyal community that supports us during the shutdowns tremendously, so the town has been super supportive for us."

While business owners express frustration, Grey Bruce's medical officer of health says he hopes the shutdown will help slow transmission of recent cases associated with bars and recreational classes.

The province-wide shutdown takes effect at 12:01 am on Sat. April 3.