‘50 per cent is better than 0 per cent’: Ottawa businesses relieved to see COVID-19 restrictions lifted

Many local businesses are relieved that reopening plans are around the corner, but some were hoping this would happen faster.

This is just step one of three stages in Ontario’s plans to ease the COVID-19 restrictions, spread out over several weeks.

“Every day that you don’t have someone sitting in the seats, it’s lost revenue,” said Johny Bonney, the King Eddy’s general manager. 

The restaurant staff are cautiously optimistic about being allowed to reopen at 50 per cent capacity starting Jan. 31.

“At this point we are going to take what we can get,” he said. “50 per cent is better than 0 per cent.”

Gyms can also reopen on Jan. 31 with the same capacity restrictions.

Meanwhile sports venues and concerts can host 500 people or 50 per cent capacity, depending on which is less.

“I think it’s a good start, but I think now that we have the vaccine it’s time to get over it and fill up the arenas,” said Thomas Vanier, a sports fan.

Businesses hoping to catch up after the lockdown period.

For gyms, January is their peak season.

“We have lost about a half month’s worth of revenue due to the lockdown,” said Ashley Mathieu, owner of Anytime Fitness on Kent Street.

“Only 27 per cent are at normal revenues for this time of year,” said Julie Kwiecinski of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business. “COVID-19 debt is still over $100,000 and an alarming 18 per cent of Ontario small businesses are actively considering bankruptcy,” she added.

Those who survive, hoping to get closer to normal.

“Members are already super pumped to come back on the 31st,” said Mathieu.