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Supporting City of Kawartha Lakes small businesses through provincial stay-at-home order

Downtown Lindsay on Jan. 12, 2021. Paul Dinsdale/Global News Peterborough

Ontario’s stay-at-home order went into effect at 12:01 a.m. Thursday morning.

It’s in addition to the provincewide shutdown that has been in place since Dec. 26. The extended restrictions are taking a toll on small businesses that have already dealt with a tough 2020.

“Things are tough, but we’re out there trying to do our best doing safe curbside pick-up,” said Tammy Thompson Letham, owner of Brittany N Bros in downtown Lindsay.

READ MORE: Coronavirus: Ontario government’s stay-at-home order now in effect

“You know, you have the odd sale here and there. It pays the hydro bill but it certainly won’t pay the rent or the suppliers that are not paid as of fall 2020. So, we’re all in a bit of a predicament here.”

The stay-at-home order was issued to slow down the spread of COVID-19, with infection rates rising significantly over the last few weeks.

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During a virtual media session on Wednesday, Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit acting medical officer of health Dr. Ian Gemmill told reporters he fully supports the stay-at-home order.

“This is serious. You can’t pretend it’s 2019 — it’s not. We’re in the middle of a second wave of illness that’s clogging up the health system and it’s killing a segment of the population that would otherwise be OK,” he said.

Read more: Ontario reports 3,326 new coronavirus cases, 62 more deaths

Under the stay-at-home order, you’re allowed to go out and get goods or food from retailers and restaurants that are allowed to do curbside pick-up.

Officials with the Lindsay Downtown BIA say it’s important to support local small businesses during this most recent lockdown.

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“What we saw through last year was an amazing show of support from the community.  People really took the ‘shop local’ message to heart,” said general manager Melissa McFarland. “We’re still seeing that continue as things change day-by-day, week-by-week and we just need to get through the winter again.”

Many businesses have had to adapt and transition to an online model, whether it be a website or social media.

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“It’s been a really difficult year for everyone. Small businesses feel like they’ve taken the brunt of the restrictions from the province. They’ve been really amazing to be able to adapt quickly and be innovative,” added McFarland. “They learned a lot of lessons in the spring about reaching customers in different ways.”

McFarland said just a few extra minutes of going online and checking out what businesses have to offer can go a long way.

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“A lot of them are making it really simple. People don’t realize how easy it is. They think it’s not as easy as Amazon, but it can be and these businesses have been amazing. They’re so resilient. The thing about small businesses, you can call them and get one-on-one and say ‘this is what I’m looking for’ and they can help you out.”

“There are statistics that seem to change regularly, but they say between 60 and 70 cents on the dollar spent at small businesses stays in your community.  So we need that support to keep our community vibrant.”

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On a media teleconference on Wednesday, Mayor Andy Letham praised how local retailers and businesses adapted throughout last spring and summer to open safely.

“I struggle with how it’s somehow safer to go to a big box store to get your stuff than it is to go to a small business,” Letham said. “They’ve spent a lot of money and put protocols in place to ensure their small shopping environment is as safe as possible and the same goes for restaurants.”

“We’re going to have a tough winter regardless and we’re back to where we were before.”

“There’s going to be some carnage at the end of the day, there’s no doubt about it. It’s not just a job, these are livelihoods for people. Some of them spent 20-30 years building it up to make it profitable and they may never get it back. It’s a tough story to tell,” Letham added.

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“We want to respect the stay-home order. But the other aspect for the retailers is we need to make some money,” said Thompson Letham from Brittany N Bros.

“We have some stock ready to come in for the spring and if we’re closed, we can’t accept it. No sales to pay off what we do owe … It’s going to be tough, but I’m going to be positive and keep moving forward and do my best.”

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