Ottawa business owners want to operate 'business as usual, responsibly', plan Saturday rally
Signs in the window of an Ottawa business that is closed due to COVID-19. (CTV News Ottawa)
OTTAWA -- As Ottawa begins the third week under the modified Stage 2 COVID-19 restrictions, business owners will let elected officials know they can operate safely during the pandemic.
The group "Open Safe Ottawa" will march from Ottawa City Hall to Parliament Hill at 10 a.m., where several speakers will address the crowd.
"I'd like to see us go back to working with the provincial government, with the city and getting back to work with safe restrictions again. I think, overall, with the number of businesses that are in Ottawa, I think that everybody was doing a pretty good job at keeping those numbers low," said Scott Ruffo, owner of the Brass Monkey on Greenbank Road.
"One position that we have is that we were doing our best to safely be responsible, and we'd like to go back to that."
Open Safe Ottawa is a coalition of business owners, including bars, restaurants and fitness studios across Ottawa. The website says, "business as usual. Responsibly! Let our elected officials know that small businesses can operate safely."
The Ontario Government moved Ottawa into a modified Stage 2 on Oct. 10, with new restrictions on bars, restaurants, gyms and fitness centres and movie theatres. The new restrictions include no indoor dining at bars and restaurants for at least 28 days.
Speaking with Newstalk 580 CFRA's Ottawa Now with Kristy Cameron Friday afternoon, Ruffo said business owners are upset with how quickly Premier Doug Ford and the government imposed the new restrictions.
"This came on so quickly after Doug Ford saying only days before he was not shutting any of this region down," said Ruffo.
"This was kind of a slap in the face to us cause we were being told 'don't worry about it guys, everything's going to be fine. I've got your back', and then he didn't have our back."
Ruffo says physical distancing will be respected during the march and rally, with only one-to-five representatives from each business attending.
"A big part of our platform is we're behind the masks, we're behind the social distancing and stuff. We don't want that to change," said Ruffo, adding businesses just want to safely operate during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Cameron asked Ruffo if bars and restaurants could provide service safely to customers and staff..
"Yes, without a doubt," said Ruffo.
When asked again by Cameron about preventing COVID-19 transmission in businesses, Ruffo said, "I don't think anybody can prevent anybody from getting sick, but we can definitely do our best to try to make sure those numbers are reduced. I think that no matter where you go, you are susceptible to the virus."
Ruffo adds, "There still has to be a way for people to have somewhat of a normal functioning life."