Nova Scotia businesses want clarity, confidence from government to reopen
HALIFAX -- More than two months after being forced to close because of the COVID-19 pandemic, there is still no plan in place by the Nova Scotia government to reopen industries like gyms and dentists.
"I don't think they're dragging their heels but I think what they're doing is not being clear,” said Patrick Sullivan, CEO of the Halifax Chamber of Commerce.
“Clarity would be important. I think the signals that I've heard would be that June 8 daycares open, businesses, many businesses that were ordered closed will be allowed to reopen."
Restaurants have also been hit hard by the pandemic restrictions, only able to do takeout and delivery.
As the province sees a significant drop in the number of new and active cases, many are eager to reopen their doors.
"A restaurant’s a little different than other businesses. We can't quite simply flick a switch and start. You know, we're going to need time to develop individual operating plans, order food, put in any precautions we need to put in,” said Luc Erjavec, vice-president of Restaurant Canada for the Atlantic region.
The organization has been working with the Nova Scotia government and health officials to develop a plan that will protect both the public and staff.
"You have to remember, we already have a significant track record in terms of sanitation, hygiene, disinfection. That's part of our regular course of business. So I think the biggest difference people will see will be some of the physical-distancing requirements,” said Erjavec.
As for the Halifax Chamber of Commerce, they believe it’s time to start opening up.
"I think what I'm really looking for is clarity on the date that businesses ordered closed can reopen, but I'm also looking for confidence from the premier and from Dr. Strang that consumers can get out in the marketplace again,” said Sullivan.
Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil said this week that the province won’t be taking a phased approach to reopening and that all businesses that were forced to close will be allowed to reopen at the same time.
He said work is underway to provide public-health protocols to all the associations that represent those businesses so they can reopen safely.
“From one sector to another, I don’t think it’s appropriate for me to say, this sector should open, or that sector should open two weeks later, if they’ve done their work and they’ve met the protocols of public health,” said the premier.
“Why should I decide that? They’re investing their own money. When we see that the curve is flattened and that the economy is going to open up, let’s not pick winners and losers. Let’s make sure that everyone is following public health protocol.”
McNeil said Strang has completed another week of consultations with businesses and associations that were ordered to close and many are preparing to reopen, though no dates have been announced.
He also said businesses that were not forced to close, but chose to, can open at any time, provided they have a plan that complies with public health guidelines.