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Chamber CEO urges patience as some companies may choose to keep vaccine passport in place

On Tuesday, the province lifted passport requirements for vaccines and capacity limits at businesses like restaurants and gyms, but some may choose to keep them in place for now.

As Ontario businesses are now able to lift many of the restrictions that have been in place for much of the pandemic, the head of the local chamber of commerce hopes people will be patient with business owners. companies that choose to keep some of them in place.

As of Tuesday, the province of Ontario lifted nearly all of its required restrictions for businesses dealing with COVID-19, including capacity limits and proof of vaccination, among others.

Masking in public remains in place, but there are indications that the provincial government will lift this restriction in the near future.

While those restrictions have been lifted as requirements, the province does allow proof of vaccination or capacity limits to be maintained if a business chooses to do so.

The lifting of restrictions is welcomed by Rory Ring, CEO of the Sault Ste. Marie Chamber of Commerce.

“It will help us kickstart our economy, get our businesses running at full speed,” Ring said. “It’s a step in the right direction.”

With labor shortages across many industries, Ring said many businesses like restaurants and gyms would welcome a lifting of capacity limits that often required a dedicated member of staff to count customers. or to check vaccination passports.

“It was a major burden. Not only have they coped with the nature of the pandemic themselves, but the business community has been tasked with implementing and controlling much of the legislation and policy making that has occurred in the past two years,” Ring said. “These are people, especially on the small business side, who really want to run their business.”

Some business owners may choose to keep some of these restrictions in place.

“In the workplace, many of these businesses have gone through multiple iterations of lockdown and have lost a large portion of their workforce, who then moved on to other roles. When you start to reopen they can’t afford their staff to get sick. If they maintain certain protocols within this company, they are there to protect their staff and therefore the citizens of our community,” Ring said.

He acknowledges that some members of the public might resent companies choosing to keep restrictions in place.

“What we really want to be able to impress people on is the need to respect companies making decisions to keep some of these protocols in place and vaccine passport requirements because the government has really left that up to companies. to make that decision and it will be guided by the feedback they get from their customers,” Ring said.

Steel City MMA has faced four lockdowns and countless pivots as a result of the pandemic, owner Brent Fryia said. The lifting of restrictions will change things up a bit at its expanded space at 126 Queen Street East which the company moved to last year.

“Obviously running a business where your margins aren’t huge, operating at 50% capacity is not sustainable. It makes things doable again for us,” Fryia said.

People will still be required to wear a mask when entering and exiting the building, but Fryia said that other than that, working at Steel City MMA will be very different than it has been throughout the pandemic until here.

The business has stayed afloat thanks to a loyal membership base and various pandemic-related loans and government funding streams.

“We are cautiously optimistic,” Fryia said.

He knows that not all companies have done so well and acknowledges that there may still be tough times ahead.

“I think people now think that things are open, things are clear and they don’t realize that things are going to be tough for small businesses for a while, because even if they’re completely open, they are facing a backlog of debts and bills to pay and things to worry about,” Fryia said. “A lot of businesses are still going to be in a tough spot, that’s for sure.