Small business owner: “We want an equal playing field with the big box stores”

Simcoe Muskoka moves to red zone on Monday

A number of business owners and others gathered in downtown Barrie on Saturday to protest lockdown measures.

Protest in downtown Barrie

The protestors withstood the frigid wind at Meridian Square to hear several speeches. Some in attendance carried signs expressing opposition to lockdowns, still others held signs opposing masks and Justin Trudeau.

A downtown Barrie business owner told the crowd he opened a second business weeks before the lockdown and lost that one, but he was still fighting to keep open the first store. He said he just wants an equal playing field.

“There is no reason why small business owners can’t operate safely within the guidelines to ensure your safety,” he said. “We want an equal playing field with the big box stores.”

A small business owner in downtown Barrie said he wanted an equal playing field with the big box stores

After one week in grey-lockdown, the Ford government announced on Friday that Simcoe Muskoka was moving back to the red zone on Monday under the Ontario COVID-19 response framework.

The same business owner said while some people thought they had won by getting moved back into red, he said it’s about moving forward and progression.

Protest in downtown Barrie

The owner of Beauty and Babes hair salon said as soon as customers enter her shop they fill out a contact tracing form. She said scissors to cut hair are sterilized and she always wears goggles, noting it can make it difficult to see.

The shift to red means businesses that were closed such as barbershops, salons, dance and yoga studios and fitness centres can reopen on Monday with capacity limits. Restaurants can offer dine-in, though capacity is limited to 10 customers. There is a 75 per cent capacity limit for pharmacies, supermarkets and convenience stores, and it is a 50 per cent capacity limit for all other retail.