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Coronavirus: Amusement centre industry requests government aid; many at risk of closing

Click to play video 'Indoor playgrounds calling on Quebec Government to help them stay afloat' Indoor playgrounds calling on Quebec Government to help them stay afloat
WATCH: A recent survey of art and entertainment style venues show that without help, approximately 30 per cent of these business will fail.

In the summer months, amusements centres, indoor playgrounds and other “funtainment” centres are filled with children, families and day camps — but not this summer.

Amusement centres say since they reopened after COVID-19 restrictions were lifted, business is down 80-90 per cent over the last year.

Now, they’re calling on the Quebec and federal governments to help them stay afloat.

“We are not getting enough support, to be honest,” WooHoo owner Emmanuel Marcos said. “We are thankful for what we are getting, but it’s not as much as we need to survive.”

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In late July, a group of 60 amusement centres owners wrote to the provincial and federal government asking for financial assistance.

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The group says amusement centres represent more than four million visitors each year, $40 million in annual sales, 1,200 employees hired each year and $65 million in private investments.

“All that is at stake,” Marcos told Global News. “We contribute millions and millions of dollars in sales taxes, in employment taxes. There’s a lot at stake for the economy too.”

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As of Monday, the number of people allowed indoor public places increased to 250.

Amusement centres are excluded and can still allow only 50 people at a time.

The amusement centres Global News spoke with say they have systems in place to make sure cleanliness remains the main priority. They have been cleaning all equipment and surfaces on an hourly basis, reminding guest to keep a two-metre distance and taking temperatures upon arrival.

Some parents say they would still feel safe with the higher number.

“It’s a big place and honestly if they had more people I’m sure they would have more employees to clean the place,” mother Dominique Caron said.

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“The government, even though it gave money to other businesses to welcome up to 250 people today, they should be mindful that it doesn’t equal profitability,” said Gopinath Jeyabalaratnam, a senior policy analyst with the Canadian Federation of Independent Business.

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“The amusement centres and other venues are being left out.”

Many owners believe if the situation continues without government assistance for another six months, they will be forced to shut their doors for good

It’s really bad, the revenues are not there but the expenses continue to accumulate with rent municipal tax, hydro bills” says Jeyabalaratnam

The Canadian Federation of Independent Business conducted a survey that shows art and recreation businesses face the greatest risk of closure among all small businesses.

They estimate roughly 30 per cent of the industry is threatened.

“If at the end of the year they have to write their budget in red ink, I can assure you they won’t be able to survive longer,” Jeyabalaratnam said. “Our latest data show that art and recreation business face the greatest risk of closure. Roughly 30 per cent, according to our survey, are at risk. So we can say that they need more help, because they are really impacted due to COVID-19.”

Governments have yet to respond to their plea.