Ottawa retail stores calling for earlier opening in Ontario's COVID-19 reopening plan

The Ontario lockdown has been hard on everybody, especially for small businesses. Some Ottawa retailers though, say they are running out of time.

In less than two weeks, Ontario will move into Step 1 of the Roadmap to Reopen plan, but that won't include retail clothing store AUB44 in Place d’Orléans.

"What we’re concerned about is being excluded from the Stage One of reopening,” says store manager Kim Fortin. "We are non-essential and do not have a street entrance. We are being excluded from being open at the same time as our competitors."

Fortin says that being forced to stay closed during Step One will be hurting their business even more since shoppers will be able to get the same type of goods elsewhere. 

"They’re going to have the opportunity to open, and be open much longer than we are," says Fortin. "Leaving us with a substantial amount of merchandise that we can’t sell."

President of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business Dan Kelly says the province is moving too slow.

"Ontario is the only jurisdiction right now, anywhere on the continent, that has closed retailers," says Kelly. "We believe that restaurant patios should be open, and in fact, even a limited capacity for inside dining. We want to see retailers open with a capacity restraint."

As of right now, Step One comes into effect on June 14, that includes things like;

  • Outdoor gatherings up to 10 people
  • Outdoor dining up to 4 people per table
  • Essential retail at 25 per cent capacity and can sell all goods
  • Non-essential retail at 15 per cent capacity
  • Retail stores in malls closed unless the stores have a street facing entrance

AUB44 owner JoAnne Bordeleau says while competitive big box stores can start selling things like bathing suits, the ones in her store won't ever make it off the shelf. 

"We don’t have the explanation why, because we don’t have a street facing door, why we can’t open. So that’s the real problem,” says Bordeleau. “If we’re opening only in July, this will be too late. We have to get the back to school stock on the floor. So we have to turn it again.”

Right now, internal stores like AUB44 have to wait until Step Two before they can open. Which is at least;

  • 21 days after Step One
  • 70 per cent of adults vaccinated with one dose
  • 20 per cent of adults vaccinated with two doses

"We have been sticklers for following the rules, very strictly," says Fortin. "Following the head counts, sanitation rules, everything. And we don’t see why we can't be entered into the same competition at this point."

A competition they say, that is being taken from them everyday they’re forced to keep their door shut.