The light at the end of this two-year pandemic tunnel grew a little brighter for some Ontario businesses on Thursday, with the lifting of capacity limits at gyms, restaurants, and movie theatres. These businesses without capacity limits must still screen customers for COVID-19 vaccination. As well, sports arenas and theatres can open to half capacity.
“This is the beginning of their runway to recovery,” said Barrie Chamber of Commerce executive director Paul Markle. “It’s going to take some time. Obviously, consumer confidence is key to that.”
Markle noted that just because the province has turned on the tap doesn’t mean everything is going to be flowing right away.
“I would imagine there is still going to be a lot of hesitancy about getting into congregate settings or into larger crowds,” he noted.
Another challenge for some of these businesses, said Markle, is that during the pandemic many people changed their buying patterns.
He said it is critical now more than ever for people to shop local.
“Get out there and keep your money off Amazon,” Markle implored. “Put it into the pockets of business owners and let’s keep our community strong.”
The proof of vaccination requirement will no longer be required in public settings starting March 1, though businesses may choose to keep it in place on their own.
Mask mandates will remain in place.
The Barrie Chamber also announced on Thursday that COVID-19 rapid screen kits are available once again.
The supply ran out in December.
“We’ve gone through over 100,000 screens,” said Markle.
Only businesses in the following municipalities are able to obtain the kits from the Barrie Chamber: Barrie, Angus, Bradford, Clearview, Cookstown, Innisfil, and Wasaga Beach.