Local merchant associations request province to reduce red zone restrictions on businesses
Last week, the Aylmer Association of Professionals, Industrials and Merchants (APICA), the Gatineau Chamber of Commerce (CCG) and Vision Centre-Ville penned a letter to the Québec Government, requesting to lighten COVID-19 safety restrictions on certain business sectors to improve economic activity. Sent, on behalf of local businesses, on November 6, the requests came in response to the Government of Ontario that services like dine-in restaurants, bars and gyms in the province would be allowed reopen at limited capacity starting on November 7.
Considering Gatineau’s proximity to Ottawa, APICA General Manager Nathalie Rodrigue said the government needs to think about the region’s distinct situation. Adding that local businesses are at risk of losing their clientele if things persist, she said the government needs to continue its pledge to promote buying local during the crisis.
Stating that businesses have spent large sums of money to align with COVID-19 safety standards and aren’t known as significant propagation sites, Rodrigue believes removing or changing certain restrictions on to put them on a level playing field as enterprises across the river in necessary.
In the letter, co-owner of Bistro L’Autre Œil Martine Boily emphasized the importance of regenerating economic activity in the region to keep businesses alive. “We’re ready to respect the rules,” Boily said. “We’ve already modified our spaces to accommodate clientele, employees already know how to use protective equipment, we can welcome clients in all security.
Aware of the pandemic’s impact on the local economy, co-owner of 5e Baron Jacob Barrette said he’s eager about the prospect of welcoming people inside their establishment again. However, he specified that his company’s priority is always safety first. “If the government indicates that a partial reopening is possible, we’d be happy,” Barrette said. But, if they judge that it’s still too early, we need to trust them.”
Beurre Salé Crêperie et Boutique owner Coralie Gonsalves believes it wouldn’t make sense if the Quebec government doesn’t allow Gatineau to follow its neighbour’s example. “We form, with Ottawa, the National Capital Region,” Gonsalves said. “This, risks penalizing restaurants that only do take-out on this side of the river. Yes, some people are afraid and still want to stay home. But there are still a lot of people who want to take advantage of the joys of life.”
Rodrigue confirmed that the three organizations involved organized a virtual meeting on November 9, with Québec Minister of Families Mathieu Lacombe to address the matter at hand – noting that information about it should be available soon.