State of emergency leaves some usual London, Ont. hot spots empty
LONDON, ONT. -- Ontario Premier Doug Ford declared a state of emergency Tuesday in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, ordering the closure of bars, restaurants, theatres, libraries and banning public events with over 50 people.
So what do usually hot spots and high-foot-traffic areas look like in London after the announcement?
At Masonville Place the parking lot was nearly empty on Tuesday.
Liam Goodreau, a customer who walked through the mall said there were little to no wait times for the cash register.
“Today we are taking advantage of all the people staying inside,” he says. “We went to Masonville mall, it was pretty empty. Some of the stores are closed the food court is kind of taped off. They don’t want people sitting down eating food…but got a new pair of shoes new shirt.”
London Bicycle Café is added to the list of places that have closed.
Owner Ben Cowie says they are used to seeing about 50 to 100 customers a day in spring time, but he has chosen to shut down due to the pandemic.
“When it's busy we have lots of people coming and going, this is the type of environment where the virus is going to transmit if we stay open.”
“We’re stressed about it,” Cowie says, “but the bills we have to pay are less important than our community's health.”
While bars and restaurants have a, ‘Sorry We’re Closed,” sign posted on the front door, Covent Garden Market is currently open, but not for long.
Bob Usher, CEO and general manager, is keeping the market open until march 18th at 6:00pm.
“The reason we are staying open as long as we can is to allow the people who live in the downtown to at least come in and stock up and it also allows a lot of our product that our tenants have here to be able to load it instead of having to throw it out,” Usher says.
Convent Garden Market is a market, not a grocery store, Usher says.
“Our bars and restaurants that have sit-down areas are now closed…We are a gathering point and we have lots of tables and a lot of the people here are not food-orientated and lot of them are restaurants and we have a big food court.”
Usher says they seat more than 50 people and the decision was made in conjunction with the city.
Chris Lyons is a vendor inside the market who owns, Chris’ Country Cuts.
Lyons says he understands why the market is closing down his shop but adds, “We are not thrilled about it.”
A silver lining to the two weeks of enforced vacation is the fact that business has skyrocketed.
“The last four days have actually been crazy, absolutely nuts. They’re like Christmas levels, which is unheard of in March. Most people are going away at this time and they are all stocking up,” Lyons says.
Ontario has reported a total of 185 cases of COVID-19, with five of them fully resolved.
Eight new infections were added Tuesday -- the smallest number of new cases in several days.
The province has set aside a $100-million contingency fund, and is receiving $200 million from the federal government.
That money is all being directed to health-care resources, Ford said, and a provincial support package for businesses is in the works.