Closures necessary agree chambers of commerce

Gregg Chamberlain
EAP
Chambers of commerce in Prescott-Russell support mandatory closure of non-essential businesses to as part of Ontario’s COVID-19 attack plan.

“It’s a hard blow, but a necessary one,” said Marc Lecompte, president of the Hawkesbury Chamber of Commerce, during a phone interview March 23.

“It’s needed,” said Julie Brisson, president of the Prescott-Russell Chamber of Commerce, which represents businesses in Casselman, The Nation Municipality, Russell Township, and their surrounding areas.

Premier Doug Ford announced Monday that all non-essential businesses in Ontario will close as of Tuesday midnight March 24 for a 14-day period. The mandatory closure is aimed at reducing the spread of the novel coronavirus which causes the disease, COVID-19. The provincial government will review the closure after 14 days and decide whether or not to extend it.

A list of businesses and services classed as essential and allowed to continue public service operations was scheduled for release on Tuesday. Grocery stores and pharmacies were expected to be on that list. Both Brisson and Lecompte noted that many of their members were anxious to know what businesses would be on the “essential service” list.

“I  got so many calls within half an hour (after the announcement) from people asking will they be on the list or not,” said Brisson. “People are worried.”

“Most businesses will make it through,” said Lecompte, regarding the mandatory closure, “but many will have issues. We’re looking at a totally different business landscape. Many businesses will be in recovery mode. Any non-essential business will need a year to catch up. I wish everyone the best.”

Officials for the Clarence-Rockland Chamber of Commerce were not available for comment.