More than 300 businesses (and growing) across Canada plan to reopen on Feb. 11 despite lockdown orders. The businesses taking part in the protest are considered non-essential and have been closed for more than two months. Many business owners feel that they no longer have an option and need to reopen to stay afloat.
Businesses that plan to reopen have banded together to form the group We Are All Essential (#stayopen) and are based across the country, including Toronto restaurant owner Adam Skelley (Adamson Barbecue). Ontario’s current lockdown closures will last until Feb. 9 but may extend beyond that time.
Police have heavily ticketed prior anti-lockdown protestors, and government officials continuously warn of repercussions for reopening ahead of local allowances. This past fall, Adamson Barbecue was fined and ordered to close for defying lockdown protocols. Police continue to ticket business owners that fail to comply with the new Covid-19 safety measures.
In neighbouring Quebec, non-essential businesses were allowed to open following a two-month lockdown. Still, Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. David Williams, has stated that the province’s current lockdown status will not change until ICU numbers are cut in half. Additionally, cases must be under 1,000 per day before the government will lift some lockdown measures.
Business owners argue that remaining operational while closed is impossible.
“Small business owners across our nation are locking arms and taking a stand,” states a We Are Essential flyer.
The group’s website includes promotional materials business owners can use to support the cause and resources available to help fight against government closures, including legal support. It also includes an “Expert Research” page filled with videos and documents detailing the psychological, emotional and financial impact of business closures.
A volunteer network also exists to help support business owners that have joined the group. Business owners who sign up to participate in the protest on Feb. 11 will have the option to be listed publicly on the We Are All Essential website as part of a living directory.