London businesses worry about going backwards as COVID-19 cases rise
LONDON, ONT. -- London businesses are worried that their work in adapting and surviving in the new normal will be all for naught.
This, as the number of COVID-19 cases continues to rise again provincially, and downtown London bars are seeing their first cases with the return of post-secondary students.
“We’re keeping the doors open, people employed. We just have to innovate,” said Rami Sesian, who opened his King Street restaurant Chickpz in May at the height of the pandemic.
It certainly wasn’t how he planned it, but he said he’s been able to survive, keeping 10 people on the payroll. But he admitted he’s growing anxious as the virus makes its way back into the area, particularly the downtown.
“Definitely a second wave, I don’t even want to fathom what it would do to us mentally and economically and so on and so forth. For us on a personal level, of course it’s worrisome.”
It’s a common refrain throughout the core, as those businesses that have survived so far continue to roll with the protocols as they're introduced. The slowly climbing caseload is always on their minds said Downtown BIA manager Barbara Maly.
“Trying to be business as usual. Of course with the background noise of increased numbers of COVID-19 starting to come in. But certainly the businesses are committed to ensuring their patrons are safe, as well as their staff.”
Retirees David and Celia Mosley, who could be found taking a stroll along Dundas Place Monday, said they’re concerned people are growing complacent. David said he believes we could get out of the pandemic if more people would follow the protocols.
“There’s a lot of people who don’t think it’s going to affect them, that’s the problem. We’ve run into people, haven’t we, they’ve made jokes of us, they say ‘are you going to rob a bank,’ or something. And you know they’re not wearing a mask. I don’t know what the mentality is nowadays.”
Just last week, Premier Doug Ford and the province’s associate chief medical officer of health, Dr. Barbara Yaffe indicated that a continued sharp rise in cases could force the province to reimpose restrictions, even if only in hard-hit regions.
Meanwhile, a stark warning Monday from London Mayor Ed Holder.
“I would hope our collective health and well being, friends family and strangers alike would provide ample motivation to do the right thing and to follow public health guidelines. But if not consider this – bars, restaurants and other establishments that we are currently able to enjoy simply won’t be available for anyone to enjoy if we continue heading down this path.”