The end of most restrictions for indoor public settings in Ontario meant local businesses could return to something resembling normal operations after two years of pandemic-related adjustments.
The long stretch saw business owners having to adjust to a host of conditions, from mask mandates and vaccination certificates right through to outright lockdown that forced them to close their doors.
As of the start of March, issues such as capacity limits and checking customers’ vaccination status have largely gone by the wayside, with businesses eager to welcome back shoppers, diners and patrons, many of whom helped keep them afloat through some trying times.
“It’s been pretty crazy, we have people coming in and we have to turn them away right now but it’s good that the community is supporting us,” said Kevin Hotradat, owner of the Lux Cuts barbershop in Elmira.
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Another salon happy to have their loyal customers back in is Guys & Dolls Salon & Spa in Elmira, which opened a new location during the pandemic.
“We want to be efficient, get people through, but we also have to have enough time to give them the service and get their hair back where it started. That’s challenging because something that would take two hours now can take up to two-and-a-half to three hours. We have to clean, we have to sanitize, we have to do all that in between, so the booking is the hardest,” noted salon owner Lori Weber.
Gyms were one of the hardest hit industries during the pandemic with constant closures and restrictions as to how many they could let in at certain times. Many were able to push through and open up to help their customers get back in shape from the last two years, where people weren’t able to do many of the sports or activities they used to enjoy daily.
“It’s been a long couple of years. It hasn’t been easy but just seeing people’s happiness come back, people’ health improve, it’s been amazing. Anything to push the health of the greater Elmira area is what we’re all about,” said Kirby Martin, owner of CrossFit in Elmira.
Some local businesses were able to confidently open up or begin construction during the pandemic, which proved to be a challenging time with the recent trucker protest across the country causing delays in construction materials being shipped as well as other store merchandise.
Set to open at the beginning of April, the Three Sisters Cultural Centre in St. Jacobs began the purchase of the property located at 1370 King St. N. during the start of the pandemic.
“We had the paperwork signed and agreements were made April 16 of 2020. So, we have really been through the entire process of redesigning the centre, all the architecture, all the permits, and now all of this construction has really taken place over the last two years,” said Jax Rula, artistic director for Three Sisters Cultural Centre. “The village has been relatively quiet over the last few years, which, in a way has allowed our construction crew to come in and make a bit of a mess right in the downtown core. And they’re going to be finished very, very shortly. We’re coming to a place where the mandates are coming to an end and people are going to start coming back out.”