Businesses look ahead to operating with few restrictions

Some Barrie businesses are excited by the news of what operations may look like once the province moves past Step Three of its reopening plan.

On Friday, the provincial government confirmed that once Ontario is ready to move past Step Three, only a small number of current restrictions will remain in place, including no longer limiting capacity in businesses.

"We couldn't ask for more," says Sunny Jung, the owner of Everleigh, a gift shop located in downtown Barrie. "Stores like ours need volume. Often people don't want to wait too long, and they'll just go, and this is the kind of store where people take literally half an hour and more."

Businesses will still be required to have a safety plan and ensure appropriate signage for passive screening is posted.

The loosened restrictions can't come soon enough for Stella Gan, the owner of Liberty North, an event centre. While she hopes that the lifting of capacity limits will bring back large weddings and conferences, she remains concerned.

"For those conferences and events, there's still some hesitation on the clients part because of the unknown," Gan says. "There's that fear, 'will the lockdown come back in place or the restrictions come back in place?"

The province has more metrics to hit for Step Three to be lifted, including having 75 per cent of the eligible population fully immunized.

To avoid more lockdowns, Dr. Sohail Gandhi, a Stayner physician who was once the president of the Ontario Medical Association, says getting as many vaccinated as possible remains critical.

"We are going to see an increase of people with mild cases, coughs, sore throat, muscle aches, but based on the United Kingdom, we should hopefully not see people in hospital, but we'll need to watch for that," says Gandhi.

While no date has been provided for when the province will exit Step Three, the premier has said it could be as soon as the middle of August.