Montreal business community split on decision to delay reopening of non-essential stores

As a small business owner, Debra Donelle was relieved to hear that retail stores will have an extra week to prepare for reopening.

“My immediate reaction to that news is ‘phew,’” she said.

Donelle, who owns Lingerie DEBra and has two retail stores in the Montreal area, thinks May 11 — the previous date set out by the provincial government to reopen — was too soon.

READ MORE: Quebec delays reopening retail stores in Montreal amid coronavirus pandemic

She added that the logistics behind starting up again isn’t easy.

“To be able to get cleaning supplies and personal protective equipment has proven to be a challenge,” she said.

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“So, for me, the opening hinges on being able to get those supplies.”

Those concerns were echoed by the West Island Chamber of Commerce, which thinks the province should wait as long as possible to reopen non-essential businesses.

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“Personally, I would have said June 1 would have been a good time to reopen businesses,” said West Island Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Joseph Huza.

“Give it a couple of extra weeks — you still have your essential services that are open and go gradually.”

However, others say allowing small and medium businesses to operate sooner rather than later in Montreal is crucial to their survival.

“This news of delaying a week further of reopening is not going to help them,” said Gopinath Jeyabalaratnamevery, a spokesperson with the Canadian Federation of Independent Businesses.

“Everyday they are closed they are losing money.”

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But the federation admits that businesses need more government support when it comes to buying supplies.

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“If you don’t have any money coming in, how could you pay for those measures? And if you don’t pay for those measures, it’s the public health that is compromised here,” said Jeyabalaratnamevery.

Non-essential construction and manufacturing operations will still be allowed to resume on May 11.

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