Ottawa residents, businesses brace for 28 day shutdown

As COVID-19 cases continue to climb in the capital, Ottawa residents and businesses are bracing for a province-wide shutdown.

Many small businesses spent Good Friday with their doors open, bringing in last-minute business ahead of the four-week closure.

"Frustration because this is now a year into it and it’s the third lockdown, so that’s how well they work, and restaurants seem to continually be singled out," said John Borsten, owner of Zak’s Diner.

The latest shutdown means dining rooms and patios will be closed. Zak’s Diner in the ByWard Market is pivoting to takeout only for the next 28 days.

"Well April is where we start to come out of the winter blues and, of course, this winter was even bluer than ever, because of lockdowns and limited capacity, I mean the poor staff," said Borsten.

As of 12:01 a.m. Saturday, the province is hitting the emergency brake in an effort to cub the spread of COVID variants. Health officials are urging caution through the long weekend.

"We’re neck deep in a third wave. We know how it’s transmitted, we know where it’s transmitted and we know how to prevent it, and a very easy way to do that is not to have gathering with people that don’t live in your house," said Dr. Isaac Bogoch, infectious diseases physician and member of the Ontario COVID-19 Vaccine Taskforce.

Another affected industry is hair salons and barbershops, closing for the next four weeks.

"It’s unfortunate that we go above and beyond for our clients to feel safe because it is such a personal industry, and we’re being punished for it," said Ryan Shields, barber at House of Barons.

Many clients raced out Friday to get one last trim.

"Last minute, I needed a haircut before the lockdown and thank God these guys were open during a holiday," said Harry Grewal.

House of Barons on Sussex Drive was allowed to open on Good Friday, the last rush of customers for a month.

"I’ve been going non-stop. I’ve been on the phone non-stop in between clients just trying to get everything settled," said Shields.

Also impacted are gyms and fitness facilities across the province forced to close too.

"Having the government it looks like pick and choose what they want to shut down, I’m definitely tired, my staff is tired, we’re all tired, it’s been a pretty big hit this time around," said Ashley Mathieu, owner of Anytime Fitness.

But there is some hope offered with the vaccine rollout underway, Ottawa’s top doctor says this could be the final push.

"We just need time to get down through the age groups to reach populations that are at higher risk and then we shouldn’t need this kind of lockdown over again," said Dr. Vera Etches in a press conference Thursday.