'It's devastating,' Businesses caught in the revolving door of provincial shutdowns

Many business owners across Simcoe County were glued to the tv on Thursday to hear Premier Doug Ford announce plans for the latest province-wide shutdown.

Christian Linkert owns the Sun Emporium in Barrie and says he isn't surprised by the government's move, but once again, he says he has no choice but to keep his doors open. "I have to stay open. Same as last time to ensure my survival. I have to stay open."

Linkert defied provincial orders last month during the second wave shutdown. He opened his business, suggesting he would be closing the doors for good otherwise.

"This has nothing to do about being anti-COVID or anti-government. I'm not a denier. This is just about the survival of my business," he adds.

Brandon Green operates a medical-based fitness studio for seniors and those living with pain in Newmarket, called The Internal Performance Centre. Green says he could safely operate during the shutdown and is frustrated that he has to close. "If we even had a pair of people, both a professional and a client with 500 square feet spaced between them, we could operate, and we could still help people. There is no conversation about this. There is no individualized assessment. No one that is a decision-maker is even open to having a conversation about this."

Food establishments are forced to close indoor dining and return to take out and delivery.

The Barnstormer Brewing and Distilling Company in Barrie just reopened two weeks ago. "We will comply with whatever the orders are," says Bernadine Quigley. "It's disappointing, to say the least. We have to lay everybody off again. It's devastating."

Amanda Setterfield is a waitress at the Barnstormer and says more needs to be done. "Eight days in and for them to close it down again - I'm back to square one. It's a crazy world we're living in. Nothing is changing. Everything is the same."

Ontario's latest shutdown falls under the newly added white zone, with similar protocols and restrictions to the former grey zone rules.  Essential retail stores can open with a 50 per cent capacity limit. Other retail businesses are capped at 25 per cent, including big-box stores.

Personal care services and gyms must close, and indoor dining is not permitted.