'Our legs have been cut out from under us': Windsor-Essex business owners react to a fresh wave of restrictions
The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit is imposing new restrictions on restaurants and social gatherings, as a result of climbing COVID-19 cases.
“It was slow, but it started picking up and we were just getting even,” says Mike Duval, operator of Champions off-track betting on Lauzon Road.
“Now our legs have been cut out from under us because we can only operate at 50 per cent.”
Duval says to get a licence for betting, they have to provide food and beverage, which is done by Matter of Taste restaurant, in the adjoining unit.
“Whatever happens with the casinos and bingos, happens to us. Whatever happens with the restaurants happens to us,” says Duval.
So as of Friday Dec. 10, Duval’s indoor capacity will drop down to 16 patrons.
“I don’t think it’s fair,” says Duval. “People can go to the big box stores where you can’t find a spot because it’s Christmas. They go can go to WFCU Centre and sit with 5,000 people but yet I can only put 16 people in here.”
The new instructions also call for increased restrictions on weddings and funerals, namely assigned seating for all guests, mandatory vaccines, no receiving lines and keeping capacity limited to 50 per cent in each room.
“I never thought we’d be at full capacity in 2021 anyways,” says Ron Moro, General Manager of the Caboto Club.
Moro was surprised the WECHU issued the letter to the community on a Sunday, rather than wait until Monday.
“We had two events this week, cancelled, this morning,” says Moro, although not because of the restrictions, but rather the planners were getting nervous about the risk of COVID in the community, and cancelled out of an abundance of caution.
Because Moro wasn’t confident things would improve drastically, they can proceed with their plans for a New Year’s Eve gathering.
“We’re going to budget for a max of 250 even though its 750 for example,” says Moro. “I said (to my staff) it’s not going to happen, no matter what we want to happen, it’s not going to happen. It just isn’t. So, lets live with what the reality is.”
In Leamington, however, they’re breathing a sigh of relief, WECHU isn’t asking for new restrictions on concerts or theatres.
“It was so good to have people in a theatre,” says Corey Robertson, President of the Bank Theatre.
Robertson is also the director of ‘A Christmas Story’ now in the middle of a two-weekend run.
The remaining four performances can continue, as scheduled this weekend, with strict pandemic protocols, including proof of double vaccination at the door, and patrons must wear a mask while seated, during the entire performance.
“And we go to quite some length to clean down the theatre every night and we fog the theatre after every night as well,” says Robertson.