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Small business owner decries unfair pandemic restrictions, shares video of busy Toronto mall

Small business owner decries  unfair  pandemic restrictions, shares video of busy Toronto mall
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TORONTO -- A small business owner whose studio has been closed for more than 300 days due to pandemic restrictions shared video of a crowded Toronto mall to highlight inconsistencies in measures intended to curb the spread of COVID-19.

On Saturday, Haley Bogaert, the owner of Haley Bogaert Face, a health and beauty services studio in Toronto, filmed hordes of shoppers walking through Yorkdale Shopping Centre, as well as the parking lot packed with vehicles.

Although the shoppers can be seen wearing masks, they are unable to maintain a safe physical distance from one another because it is so crowded.

In a caption, Bogaert wrote: This is insane and completely unfair !!!!! How we have been closed for over 300 days ... ALONG WITH A LOT OF OTHER SMALL Businesses !! The government thinks this is ok !??

In Ontario, personal care services in Toronto and Peel regions have been shuttered since mid-November while malls and big box retail stores have been allowed to operate with limited capacity under the provincial governments colour-coded response framework.

In an emailed statement to CTVNews.ca on Thursday, a Yorkdale spokesperson said the shopping centre works closely with government and public health authorities to ensure that all restrictions and operating guidelines are closely followed.

The spokesperson said before Ontario enacted a provincewide stay-at-home order, which came into effect on Thursday, retailers and malls were allowed to operate at 25 per cent capacity.

Yorkdales live capacity meters on its website are designed to help shoppers plan their visits and know what to expect when they arrive, the statement read.

When retail was permitted to operate at 25 per cent capacity, the shopping centre used designated entrances and exits to manage the number of patrons on the property.

The spokesperson added that capacity was monitored vigilantly to comply with the restrictions and Saturdays capacity was below guidelines at all times.

At the end of March, the personal care services industry was told theyd be allowed to reopen on April 12, but the provincial government retracted that plan when Premier Doug Ford ordered an emergency brake and then a stay-at-a-home order for the entire province.

This means Bogaerts business wont be allowed to open again until the beginning of May at the earliest.

Its definitely not been easy, you know, laying off staff, opening, closing, Bogaert told CTVs Your Morning on Thursday.

Bogaert said her business has been just getting by because shes been conducting virtual consults and selling products online.

She said she decided to post the video of the crowded shopping mall to spread awareness about what is happening in some retail spaces that have been allowed to stay open.

I just felt, again, it was really unfair that us small businesses have been having to suffer again. We ve been closed for 300 days and not been able to do personal care services, she explained.

We have always followed health-care restrictions, even before COVID. So it was just very upsetting to see.

Bogaert said she feels like the personal care services industry has been unfairly targeted by the governments restrictions.
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