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  • Reeti Meenakshi Rohilla

Small businesses struggle to stay afloat with Stage 2 opening postponed

Updated: Jul 1

With graduating to the second stage of the ongoing pandemic, a slight wave of relief moves across the nation. However, according to Premier Doug Ford’s announcement, Leamington and Kingsville have been held back from Stage 2 reopening due to the outrageous spread of the virus in the areas.

Entrepreneurs and small business owners across the country have long been worrying about to shutting down their businesses as an impact of this pandemic. The economy of Canada has had unprecedented impact in the recent months. This has profoundly affected the ability for businesses to operate, with small businesses been hit harder by this crisis. According to a survey conducted by Statistics Canada, many of the small businesses (about 60 percent) have reported a decline in their revenue by at least 20 percent. This has led to a lay-off over 80 per cent of the employees. While most business owners are optimistic of a rebound post this crisis, the toughest part is to manage the uncertainty about the duration for which these measures may last.

Kristine O’Neil Taouil, the owner of Reflections Hair Salon in Leamington, said in the interview that she closed her business a little before the government mandate as a contribution to flatten the curve and help with the global crisis. Not knowing how long would she have to close her salon, Taouil has already faced $66,000 in revenue loss since mid-march.

Most people are attempting to weather their business through this phase by minimizing operating expenses, increasing savings, layoffs and applying for credits. However, Hilda MacDonald, the mayor of Leamington, said that the lockdown measures may result in the permanent closure of several small businesses and that she expects further financial support if they remain in Stage 1.

“I think I’m going to take a huge hit this year, and its going to take me a while to get my business finances back on track. I have been offered the CEBA $40,000 government loan. However, it is a loan! It is an additional financial expense that I never thought I would have to take on,” Taouil said.

"What you're doing is hurting these businesses that are just hanging on by their fingernails," MacDonald said. "The big companies, they can weather this, but these small businesses, they have no safety net." She added that while the neighboring Windsor-Essex communities are rejoicing and feeling a sense of relief due to the reopening, Leamington’s local small businesses might be driven to bankruptcy.

There are several challenges being faced by businesses having to restructure entirely. Taouil said that they are getting rid of their waiting area and color room. “Each section, each chair will be positioned six feet apart for social distancing. When the clients comes in, they will be screened and will be required to acknowledge a form and we will also be taking their temperatures, for proper contact tracing,” she said. She also added that all staff would be wearing proper PPE, which may often be available for the customer as well, to ensure everyone’s safety. Fresh towels, cases, pillows and brushes will be properly cleaned and sanitized.

The province is working on ways to tackle the further spread of this disease, however, it must better coordinate to pull the community out of Stage 1. While most business owners remain confident that their business will recover soon after the end of this crisis, over 30 per cent owners doubt the viability of their business over time. As of today, there are a total of 1,394 confirmed cases, with 68 deaths and 860 resolved cases in the Windsor-Essex County.

“I think coming out of this, small business will be stronger, because if we can make it through this, we can make it through anything.” Taouil is staying optimistic and is thankful to her community for support. “What is keeping me going, is knowing that I have all these people that keep saying we’re waiting for you, we’re not going anywhere else because we miss you. I can’t thank our customers enough to stand by us.”






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