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Coronavirus: London, Ont., businesses respond to COVID-19 lockdown

Shuttered businesses in the HRM are calling for better communication from the province regarding when it's anticipated they'll be allowed to reopen. ilbusca via Getty Images

Local businesses are fearful of the future with the announcement of a province-wide coronavirus lockdown starting Boxing Day.

On Monday, Premier Doug Ford announced that starting Dec. 26, all regions would be entering a lockdown, which would be 14 days for those in the north and 28 days for those in southern Ontario.

There is also the potential for the lockdown to be extended depending on case numbers.

Within that decision, only essential businesses are allowed to be open and at 50 per cent capacity. Restaurants are only allowed to be open for delivery or curbside pickup, and other businesses like apparel stores or salons are also only allowed to do curbside.

Read more: Ontario to enter ‘provincewide shutdown’ on Boxing Day

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A full list of what is closed can be found here.

Ivanopoblano and organic Mexican food restaurant on Wharncliffe Rd S in London On. July 16, 2020. Sawyer Bogdan / Global News

“We are very scared we don’t know what will happen,” said Ivan Santana-Barnes.

“We have a lot of expenses a month and I do not know if with another lockdown we will make it, but I am hoping we will,”

Ivan and his husband, Christopher, opened their restaurant Ivanopoblano last November.

“I want to stay positive because it was a dream to open this restaurant because I was in a food truck for 3.5 years,” he said.

Heading into a four-week lockdown, Ivan said they plan on taking a week and a half off until Dec. 28 for Christmas and then will switch back to takeout only.

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He said in the summer it was good because they had a lot of business on their patio but now that it has gotten colder he said many people are scared to dine inside.

“We were (masked), we have dividers, we have a filter that cleans the room and it’s a lot of expenses just to stay open.”

Read more: Coronavirus: Government delays return of in-person classes for Ontario schools

Despite the uncertainty, he hopes people band together during this next lockdown to support local businesses.

“We should stay together and we should be positive, we should just try to help to stay open.”

During Monday’s COVID-19 media briefing, Mayor Ed Holder addressed the impact this lockdown will have on local businesses.

“I know so many individuals and so many businesses who have made incredible sacrifices and yet here we are,” Holder said.

“This is an absolutely brutal blow and there are no two ways about it. As I said before, individuals and businesses who are not responsible for the virus and its mass spread are bearing the brunt of the consequences.”

He also took aim at the fact big box stores were allowed to stay open because they have essential goods like groceries, saying it’s unfair because they also offer a lot of non-essential products.

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Other businesses that are feeling the impact of the lockdown are hair salons and spas.

Alaina Calzerley, owner of Scizzorhands Salon and Spa on Wharncliffe Road, said it’s disappointing to have to close after all of the changes they made to keep people safe.

“It’s impacting us drastically we have had to pivot in all aspects of the business including social distancing and creating tones of policies so clients feel safe,” she said.

“It’s very frustrating because we have done everything they have asked for to make everyone feel safe and now we are being told to close again.”

Calzerley said she is trying to stay hopeful they make it through this but it will be difficult for her 13 staff who are all commission-based.

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During the lockdown, she said they will continue to offer curbside pickup on all of the salon products people would normally be able to buy inside.

“We have an incredible community that has been extremely supportive.”

During his announcement, Ford said there would be grants worth a minimum of $10,000 and upwards of $20,000 for small businesses being impacted by the closers.

More information that that program can be found on the government website.

Ivan said he is skeptical about the funding though, saying they were unable to qualify for any of the other supports offered at the beginning of the pandemic but he hopes this time they will.

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