It’s business as usual for stores and restaurants in Kingston amid the global coronavirus pandemic — for now.
Open signs can be seen in every window. The Royal Angkor restaurant is taking extra steps to make customers feel comfortable.
“We started giving people their own water pitchers at the table, letting them pack their own leftovers, taking the things off the table so no one’s touching them,” says co-owner Julie Lafleur. “If they want salt or pepper, chilli, they can ask me and then after every use, I make sure they’re disinfected. Same with menus.”
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She says business hasn’t changed much, but the restaurant is prepared should COVID-19 hit the community.
“We would probably just close the dining room and just focus on takeout and delivery and, worst-case scenario, shut down so we can control it,” says Lafleur.
It’s a financial hit that many stores are concerned about. They’re doing what they can to keep running.
Cindy Gibson owns two clothing stores in Kingston, Agent 99 and Whit, and is encouraging people to shop locally.
“We still have our online stores so for people who are hunkering down, just a reminder that there are other locally operated online stores that they can go to, to help support these family businesses,” says Gibson.
Kingston’s trolley and boat tours usually rely on tourists from out of town and are anticipating a different type of season this year.
“We are anticipating that there will be a lack of flights overseas, travel overseas, that close nearby destinations will be popular,” Hugh Mackenzie from the Kingston Destination Group says.
Operators will make a number of changes, including limiting the number of people allowed on board the boats, constant disinfecting and screening people before they board. That would include asking them if they have recently travelled out of the country, have a cough or have respiratory issues.
A number of trade shows have been cancelled, costing local vendors thousands of dollars in revenue.
Ian Crerar, who owns canoe and kayak company ClearWater Design, says the National Home Show makes up 25 percent of his yearly revenue. It has been cancelled due to COVID-19.
He’s trying to make up for the loss by launching a virtual trade show online.
“People can see our boats germ-free and we’ll probably have a forum where people can ask questions and maybe I can answer them in real-time,” says Crerar.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has announced that the federal government is preparing a significant fiscal stimulus package in the coming days to help Canadians and businesses hit hardest by the novel coronavirus outbreak.