'The rules do not make any sense': Small businesses frustrated by latest province-wide shutdown

A province-wide shutdown aimed at curbing the spread of COVID-19 is leading to frustration for some small business owners, especially those in the personal care industry.

“We are the first to get shut down and we're the last to reopen,” said Sam Zongoli, the co-owner of Fifth Avenue Hair Design in Brantford.

Zongoli spent the weekend calling all of her clients and rescheduling all upcoming appointments for next month.

“I was booked until the middle of May,” Zongoli said.

She estimated the shutdown could set her back tens of thousands of dollars.

“A lot of people's careers and livelihood is being crushed by this. Like I said, I feel like we can open safely and securely,” said Zongoli.

Zongoli said she is considering re-opening before the end of the shutdown. She said she knows of many businesses who have expressed to her that they will be doing the same.

“What are they going to do shut us down again?” asked Zongoli. “At this point everyone’s tired.”

The hair salon has a boutique attached to it where hair products and other small items are sold. The retail space is allowed to stay open under the new rules, but the salon is not, adding to the frustration. Zongoli said sales from those items would not be enough to save her business.

“I didn’t go to school and build a 10-year career on selling products,” admitted Zongoli.

Other businesses said they felt like they are being left out of the conversation.

“I just feel like we are being targeted at the moment,” said Lindsay Coulter, a Waterloo photographer.

Coulter started an online petition. It has gained nearly 40, 000 signatures in a matter of days.

“The rules do not make any sense. The rules as they stand I don’t believe are going to help Lower transmission,” worried Coulter.  “Unfortunately, what I do believe they’re going to do is start decimating small businesses. “

Coulter said she would be down about 80 per cent in revenue this month compared to a regular April.

“I will be following the guidelines. I am just very much hopeful the province takes a second look at this,” She said.

According to the province, the businesses impacted by the closures in the latest shutdown are in what is being considered high-risk sectors like personal care service establishments, places that offer indoor and outdoor dining and at fitness centres.