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Pushback from Burlington on COVID restrictions

Pushback from Burlington on COVID restrictions

Burlington City Council has unanimously approved a motion asking the provincial government to make changes to business restrictions to increase fairness for smaller businesses during the pandemic closures and restrictions.

The resolution is asking the province to level the playing field for small retailers forced to close while big box stores selling the same goods can remain open – so long as they sell food or other essential items. The resolution also asks that capacity limits be based on square footage of a venue, not a hard cap. This would also increase fairness among smaller and larger businesses.

The resolution was developed in partnership with the Burlington Economic Recovery Network (BERN) and Team Burlington, which includes representatives from Tourism Burlington, Burlington Economic Development, Burlington Chamber of Commerce and two business improvement areas – Aldershot Village BIA and the Burlington Downtown Business Association. Mayor Marianne Meed Ward and Ward 1 Councillor Kelvin Galbraith sit on the BERN and worked together to bring the resolution forward.

Ward 1 Councillor Kelvin Galbraith and Ward 6 Councillor Angelo Bentivegna will be working together to bring a similar resolution to Halton Regional Council for endorsement. Both councillors own businesses in Burlington, and Councillor Bentivegna has a long history in the hospitality industry.

The letter to the premier reads: “As the second wave of COVID-19 takes its toll, we must do everything possible to protect our economy, while at the same time balancing the interests of public health and safety. The survival of small businesses is essential to the Province’s recovery efforts, and as such, the City is requesting that the Province revise the Rules for Areas in Stage 1 under Ontario Regulation 82/20 (the “lockdown”) to address the current inequity between small businesses required to limit their sales to online or curbside pickup and those businesses permitted to remain open and continue in-person sales; to avoid unfair competitive advantage between businesses; and to provide consistency with continued effective health risk management in consultation with Public Health.”

Noted Burlington Mayor Marianne Meed Watd, “It makes no sense that a large big box store can sell goods smaller retailers can’t. It makes no sense that the same store can have hundreds of people inside while a large restaurant is capped at 10 regardless of size and ample ability to ensure physical distancing. We hope the government will make the necessary changes that will both protect public health and our local businesses.”

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