By Domenic Marinelli - Local Journalism Initiative Reporter for Parc-Extension News
Taking a look at how 3 business types in and around Park Ex are dealing with the red alert and the restrictions set upon them.
Premiere Legault announced a four week extension at a press conference this week and business owners are a tad worried about the long run and what it can mean for their respective businesses and their ability to stay afloat without a clientele base.
The restaurant industry
What is considered the lifeblood industry of the city of Montréal, the food industry has suffered greatly during Covid-19. And yes, perhaps that’s a blatant understatement, but one that needs to be stated as such. The only restrictions set upon them were of course the prohibition of having diners eating in the restaurant, but we spoke to Rajit, the owners son from Maison Indian Curry, and he said that business was pretty much okay, even during the red alert of the last 28 days. They had been open and flourishing with deliveries and take-out options and even during the 28 days, they were doing quite well, he told me in a telephone interview. But his concern was the same concern he had a few months ago when I spoke to him last, and that was the fact that the delivery companies take 30 percent of his earnings and that is the only place where he lost money in all of this. He lost no money for pick-ups of course … so an allowance for in-person dining would definitely be better.
The same was felt by many restaurants in the area.
Other businesses in the area
And it isn’t just restaurants that are feeling the new restrictions, shades of the first lockdown back to haunt them once again and in new ways … Alan Toussaint, owner, musician and producer at Solo Drum on Hutchison had this to say about the red alert overall … some of his concerns:
“What I recently gathered with the latest Covid-19 info and the lockdown is utterly ridiculous. 28 days WON'T GET RID OF COVID, nor 365 days. It does NOT outweigh the disruption, stress levels, financial burdens, mental health and OTHER health issues, suicides, passions for living, our children's stimulus just to name a few. The suffering is much greater. Their PCR testing is very questionable and at this point would NOT put it by me if there is an agenda but that's another thing. On a personal level, the little CERB helped a bit for home bills and have applied for the CEBA for my business and yet to receive an answer from the government...and they say they want to help small business? And let's face it: this is a loan, not a subsidy. So since March biz has been sour and a wee bit of help from rent relief but that's it. So after a really bad 2020, here comes January 2021 with a municipal tax bill that has increases 58% in the last 8 years, biz insurance up 12% last year. That's just 2 expenses. At some point you gotta say, What The Hell?! If they impose a lockdown, by law they have to dish out but nothing close to what businesses are losing. Covid-19, a pandemic like many, many others simply has to take its course. Unfortunately some of us have to fall, even me. Some people have issues digesting conspiracy theories but there are certainly lots of facts and logic behind them which makes you wonder. I'm a common sense type of person though common sense is not that common anymore. I respect people's opinions as they should respect mine. I make sure to do my do diligence as to keep my distance from people and wash my hands but the mask and lockdown is so over the top. No government, institute, organization has the right to dictate and control and manipulate any human. It has always been in my character since a child NOT TO FEAR and WILL NOT. If I catch it and die, so be it.”
Strong sentiments from Alan, but he isn’t alone in feeling this and as a long-standing business owner in the area, he speaks for many that stand behind him, although the sentiment isn’t shared by one and all.
So far Gyms in town have respected the red alert restrictions set up early in the month for the 28 day period, but come Thursday, a collective of 200 gyms have decided to reopen in an act of defiance, whether the government allows them to or not, they announced this week. According to gym owners, gyms are such an important part to the mental health of citizens across the city that gyms should be considered an essential business, so gym owners hope, as well as gym-goers.
This is the start of a collective banding together of people against government decisions and could create a precedent for future groups and/or business owners, many feel. This is being seen as a good thing by most in the community but many worry that it could lead to serious issues between government and civilian relations regarding protocols for lockdowns and or preventative measures.
Essentially, the collective are getting tired of tactics that restrict but don’t seem to be working overall, they feel. But Legault did not bend to the threats: “The law must be respected. Gyms cannot be open.” He has also threatened hefty fines to those that do not respect the restrictions.
Since the decision, a group of gym owners have decided to back down from their threats after hearing Premiere Legault’s denial of their pleas to reopen gyms for the mental health of their members. Many of them are inviting members to protest the decision by gathering in front of their locations, all the while respecting the rules to prevent the spread of Covid-19.