Editorial: So-called lockdown is full of hypocrisy
The new year has begun amid another so-called lockdown in Ontario. I use the term “so-called” because it seems only certain industries and businesses are locked down, while others can operate with relative impunity.
This is no more evident than when big box stores (especially the one which exists in both Huntsville and Bracebridge) can open their doors to sell anything and everything while many small businesses with local ownership can’t let people into their stores.
Oh, I know that the big box stores “sell groceries and have pharmacies,” but if that is the main reason for allowing them to be open, then they shouldn’t be allowed to sell anything else. Their other departments should be sectioned off and strict limits on number of customers should be followed – like the other grocery stores and pharmacies are adhering to.
I’m sure the “official statement” from big box stores will indicate they’re following protocols, but anyone who has ventured even near one of their parking lots have observed these are nothing more than empty words. This while grocery stores like Freshco and Independent and Metro often have line-ups because they are following the pandemic rules to the letter.
Meanwhile, retail outlets, restaurants and ski hills are closed to the public. These places, which are the very fabric of our communities, are struggling to stay alive while the multi-million-dollar faceless entities are thriving during this pandemic. It’s more than a shame, it’s an absolute sham.
If you are going to let big box stores and giant corporations sell all the wares they have in-person to the public, then any business which sells the same wares should be allowed to open to the public too.
If you are not willing to let everyone open, then it’s time to level the playing field and put greater restrictions on the big box stores using their “groceries and pharmacies” as a way to get people through the door to sell them all the other items they have available.
As for our community restaurants, they are once again forced to do takeout only as they continue to feel the brunt of pandemic restrictions. They seem to be singled out as places where a virus can spread more freely, despite being infinitely more diligent than most in terms of health and safety, cleanliness and certainly playing by all the COVID rules.
I’ve written it before, but it needs to be hammered home: support our local restaurants by getting takeout from them at the same level you once did when indoor dining was available. If we don’t, we risk losing some of our most cherished establishments.
Yet, the restaurants aren’t alone this winter in being singled out by the pandemic. Perhaps the biggest hypocrisy of this lockdown is the closure of ski hills in Ontario. We are the only province with absolute closures of ski hills and, from many reports I have read, a large percentage won’t be around another season if they don’t open soon.
It’s ridiculous that an outdoor activity that can be monitored, spaced out and done safely – at least in terms of COVID – is not allowed to happen. This after golf courses successfully navigated tee times, carts, and social distancing through the summer and fall.
Ski hills can easily do the same with lift times, social distancing, only family members sharing lifts, and other protocols they had developed prior to the first snowfall.
How is it not safe to be on an open-air ski hill with time spacing and social distancing measures in place, but it’s safe to cram a whole whack of people into a big box store?
In a similar situation, I was looking at the Arrowhead Provincial Park website to see what activities were allowed and, at the time of this writing, there wasn’t much. No skating, no skiing, no snowshoeing – no winter fun whatsoever.
Again, how is it not okay to enjoy outdoor activities in a provincial park which can be easily monitored for social distancing and number of visitors, but you can navigate a jam-packed big box store indoors?
The Province of Ontario needs to decide if they are actually in a lockdown or just locking down and potentially destroying the lives of small business owners in communities everywhere.
If they want to extend the lockdown, they better eliminate the double standards that allow big box stores to eat up all the dollars while small business owners are counting their pennies.
By Chris Occhiuzzi, for HuntersBayRadio.com