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Uncertainty of future a local business concern due to COVID-19

DAN CEARNS, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, for The Standard

NORTH DURHAM: The Port Perry Business Improvement Association (BIA) has heard from a number of local business owners who are concerned about their future because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The BIA recently conducted a survey of downtown businesses regarding the now completed pedestrian pilot project, which saw a portion of Queen Street in Port Perry closed to vehicles on weekends. However, the survey also included questions on how the businesses were dealing with the pandemic. “People are hurting. Some businesses are doing okay, but a lot of them are still very worried about how things are going and what their future is going to be,” BIA chair Birgitta MacLeod told The Standard. “A good portion of them applied for and received financial aid from the various programs out there. That’s good. Those programs are benefiting local businesses for sure. But there’s a lot of uncertainty and a huge amount of stress. People I think feel pulled in many directions. They’re just doing the best they can because their livelihoods are at stake.” There is a concern among the BIA community about how financial uncertainty will affect the future of the downtown business landscape. “We’re already seeing some closures. Some shops are closing or moving,” Ms. MacLeod said. The possibility of a second wave of the virus could impact fall and winter sales for these local businesses. “I think a lot of businesses are really counting on Christmas, holiday sales on being a big part of their recovery. There’s some uncertainty there too, as we don’t know if there’s going to be another bump in [Covid-19] cases, [that could] possibly cause further restrictions,” Ms. MacLeod stated. But, she also noted, the Scugog community has fared better with the virus than some bigger Ontario cities. “Pockets of cities like Toronto are hurting way worse than downtown Port Perry.” Meanwhile, Uxbridge BIA Chair Christina Curry offered a positive outlook for the future of local business. “Every business is unique, and I don’t like to dwell on the fear. This has been a time of great resilience, great creativity to keep our community safe and keep doing business,” she told The Standard. Ms. Curry added the pandemic has “taught us all a lesson about how valuable our community is and how viable we are.”

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