After being forced to close down for the second time during the pandemic, small business owners are frustrated and calling on the government to change the guidelines around who is allowed to remain open during the lockdown.

“The impact has been quite extreme,” explains Brittany Bertram, co-owner of The Lash Cocoon,

Bertram had to close her salon after Ontario announced a 28 day province-wide lockdown in an effort to help slow the spread of COVID-19, with the province only allowing essential businesses to remain open

“We’re just seriously questioning, what deems somebody essential versus non-essential?” she said.

Other local business owners are asking the same questions as Bertram, and say the most recent round of closures are ruining their livelihoods.

“We have all these precautions and we’re not the ones spreading COVID-19, but we get shut down,” said Holly Fuhr, owner of Shear Amazement.

“We’ve lost 50 per cent of our clients. My savings are gone,” said Sascha King, owner of NorthXFitness.

Local business owners have banded together to write letters to the government asking that current lockdown restrictions be modified based on risk levels.

“We’re asking for the government to re-evaluate the restrictions that have been put in place because we just don’t think they make sense,” said Bertram

“I just don’t think that it should be up to the government to say whether we can operate and make money,” said dog groomer Leanne Wells.

In a statement, the Ministry of Health says they understand this is a difficult time for many small businesses, and adds the province is providing financial support to small businesses through grants

But not all businesses are currently eligible. Maria Fearnall says her gym doesn’t meet the criteria because it opened after April 2020.

“We actually don’t qualify for any of this $600 million Ford has put out there and that to me is very frustrating,” said Fearnall, co-owner of F45 Doon.

The province says eligibility criteria for those businesses will be released sometime this month.