Chamber Calls For Revised Protocols
That Ensure Safe Business Operations And Reduced Community Contacts
NORTHERN, ONTARIO ~~~~~~ March 22, 2021 (LSN) The Thunder Bay Chamber of Commerce, along with fellow Ontario Chambers, is leading efforts calling on the Ontario Government to revise the COVID operating framework to combat COVID, build consumer and business confidence and reduce undue harm to the economy. The Chambers have sent a letter to Premier Ford and various Ontario Ministers outlining their two-pronged approach and will be raising the recommendations during meetings with Ontario Ministers and MPP’s throughout the week.
“COVID restrictions must be refined to support the long-term health of our community and the economic health of our businesses,” says Charla Robinson, President of the Thunder Bay Chamber of Commerce. “This revised approach provides safe operating rules for each sector that will allow all businesses to remain operational while also implementing a community contact framework that reduces business capacity in response to regional virus spread.”
The Thunder Bay Chamber of Commerce believes the Responsible Business Protocol would serve as a vital tool to combat COVID, build consumer and business confidence, and reduce harm to the economy. We will take every opportunity to advocate for the Ontario Government to implement this two-pronged approach.
- A Safe Operating Framework (by business sector) – The framework should advise business owners on operating guidelines for their establishment (restaurant/hair salon/gym, etc) in order to protect their staff and clients from COVID-19 exposure.
- Example/Idea: In a barber shop, for example, our position is that regardless of how many chairs in the shop, consistent operating safety protocols (ie. spacing of chairs/plexi-dividers) can be established and all businesses would then be treated equitably. The issue of capacity at which they would be allowed to operate is guided by the Community Contact Reduction Framework described in point #2.Once a safe operating framework has been established by Ontario for each sector, the safety measures for each business should not vary based on what product you sell, geographic area or establishment size etc. This framework differs from the current one in that Ontarians can take comfort in knowing that the key issue is not business safety, but community contact.
- A Community Contact Reduction Framework (based on regional virus spread). As the cases rise in a particular region, the government should enforce reduction in community contacts. We know it is not the business itself that becomes less safe, it is the contact between community members that is less safe.As such, we recommend that the new protocol establishes a framework that identifies how individual contacts must be reduced and would outline capacity restrictions, across the board, for public-facing businesses.
- Example/Idea: In the Green level, for example, all public facing businesses would operate at 100% customer capacity (because they are already implementing safe operating protocols as per point #1) and as the case level rises in that region, capacity is reduced by 20% (for example, yellow = 80%, Orange = 60%, Red = 40%, Grey (current) = 25%). This allows more businesses to stay open and changes the message to the community.
Essentially the message to Ontarians is that these operating restrictions are about the community’s actions to reduce their own contacts rather than the current messaging, which unfairly closes or restricts trade for small businesses.
The Responsible Business Protocol, together with a safe operating framework by sector and community contact reduction framework, fairly applied across the board (ie both at national big-box and local retail stores) is a much better way to combat COVID, build consumer and business confidence, and not unduly harm the economy.
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