WINDSOR, ONT. -- Windsor-Essex will move into the ‘orange-restrict’ level of COVID-19 restrictions at midnight, forcing businesses to once again adjust operations.

One local bar owner has taken it a step further and has decided to lock his doors.

“Orange is going to push us into closure,” says Vern Myslichuk, owner of Vernacular Lounge on Erie Street.

“Any revenue that’s really made is between 11 p.m. and 1 a.m., so having us restricted to 9 p.m. is pretty much going to close us,” he says. “That will bring us to zero.”

As a result, 10 staff members will be laid off.

“It just doesn’t stop. The guy who cleans the windows, I don’t need him anymore,” says Myslichuk.

The decision is based on the new COVID-19 restrictions businesses will have to follow once they enter the orange zone.

Bars and restaurants must adhere to the following guidelines:

  • Fifty-person capacity limit for indoor seating
  • Limit of four people to sit together
  • Establishments must close at 10 p.m.
  • Liquor to only be sold or served between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m.
  • Liquor cannot be consumed between 10 p.m. and 9 a.m.
  • Patrons must be screened
  • Strip clubs must close

“So now I’m going to go to 20-capacity to 15. So even at 15, how long can you stay open at 15,” Myslichuk says when discussing his restaurant, Bacchus Ristorante.

Frustration is also mounting at local sports bars, ahead of what usually is a busy week of the year.

“With American thanksgiving coming up, originally we’d be filled up with 200 people but with the new limitations, we’re only going to be allowed 50 people at each property this Thursday,” explains Andrew Corbett, co-owner of The GOAT and The Bull N Barrel.

“Until they give us some type of evidence and proof that these cases are coming from restaurants and bars, I don’t understand why they keep putting the pressure on us,” he says.

Corbett believes enforcing restrictions has been difficult at times, such as taking customers' information upon entering.

“Some of the customers don’t want to give that information and we have to tell them that we have to enforce this it’s not our rules, we’re being told we have to enforce these rules,” he says.

Local gyms will also have a different feel come Monday.

Changes to sports and recreational fitness centres include:

  • Maximum of 50 people per facility in all combined recreational fitness spaces or programs (does not include pools, rinks at arenas, community centres or multi-purpose facilities)
  • Members of the public must be screened
  • People cannot stay for longer than 90 minutes unless engaged in a sport
  • No spectators allowed, except for parent/guardian who is supervising a child

“Every time you move from yellow to orange, it’s just more fear in the people,” says Joey Flores, owner of Riverside Fitness.

Flores worries his business won’t be as busy this week in the orange zone, and even more changes could be on the way.

“Once we go into the red zone, it’s going to be 10-person limit and that’s going to be really hard,” he says.