LONDON, ONT. -- Monday marked a major milestone for businesses in Middlesex London as the region moved from red to orange in the province’s COVID-19 framework.

It allows businesses to begin to bounce back after a difficult year.

At Collins Clothiers on Adelaide Street South in London, owner Curt Collins says online sales have been tough, as customers generally like to try on higher end formal wear.

“We’re very excited to have people back in the store and we have the ability to serve our clients once again.”

Collins says between their seven stores in the area they’ve suffered a financial loss of about $4 million over the past year. He says not being able to compete with big box stores has been a sore point.

“We try to be more safe and more stringent on the rules than we believe box stores to be. And it’s a smaller environment. There’s more personal shopping involved here. We can monitor things a lot closer. You know the question has always been for us, why can we not sell clothing if they can sell clothing.”

Restaurants go from 10 to 50 customers at a time. It’s the difference between making money and losing money says Tom Sada, who owns seven Chuck’s Roadhouse restaurants in the London area.

“Well we went through this before last year. We went through orange, we went through red, we went through yellow. Like you know we’re hoping to go for yellow. Yellow will allow us to be open till 11:00 at night instead of 9:00 at night, and more people with yellow.”

Film buffs, or anyone who just likes a night out will be pleased to know that cinemas can now open with 50 person capacity.

London’s independent theatre, the Hyland Cinema on Wharncliffe Road opens on Friday. Owner Moira Adlan is busy stocking the concession stand, putting up posters, and firing up the digital projector.

“It’s 400 seats in there so there’s lots of space for people to spread out and stay safe.”

London’s mayor is also celebrating the progression from lockdown, to red, and now orange. Ed Holder points out that no similar sized region in the province has a lower rate of COVID-19.

“So please support local business like never never before. But do it in a safe and thoughtful way, just as we’ve been doing over these past 77 days.”