The North Bay & District Chamber of Commerce is calling for the local health unit to reconsider an extended lockdown amid concerns about permanent damage to area businesses.
On Feb. 19, the North Bay Parry Sound District Health Unit announced the area it oversees would remain in lockdown under the provincial Stay-at-Home order until at least March 8, following a spike in cases of COVID-19 and the circulation of the highly contagious South African variant in the area.
A number of outbreaks have recently been declared in the area, and two people have died in the last week in connection to an outbreak at a North Bay apartment building.
In a statement issued Feb. 24, Peter Chirico, the chamber’s president and CEO, said the organization is “disappointed” by the health unit's decision.
“The chamber has asked North Bay Parry Sound District Health Unit to assess the current risk level and revisit the decision to extend the shutdown in light of the decline in cases,” Chirico said in the release.
“Each week that businesses remain in shutdown represents job losses and increases the risk of permanent business closures in the region.”
To help small businesses stay afloat during the extended lockdown, the chamber wants limits put on the sale of non-essential items at big box stores, and says small businesses should be allowed to make in-person appointments at a limited capacity.
The organization is also seeking increased funding for businesses in the North Bay Parry Sound District, from all levels of government, and is urging the health unit to provide better outreach and communications to the business community.
“A healthy economy contributes to the overall health of the community,” Rebecca McGlynn, chair of the chamber’s board, said in the release.
“As an organization, we are concerned about both the immediate and long-lasting impacts to our members.”
The North Bay & District Chamber of Commerce has been operational since 1894.