Some Ottawa restaurants and businesses close,reduce hours or only offer takeout
Ottawa Public Health has accepted the recommendation that the city’s restaurants and bars should close except for take-out and delivery service in order to help slow the spread of the novel coronavirus, according to Mayor Jim Watson.
By the time the recommendation was made Monday afternoon by Ontario’s chief medical officer of health, some Ottawa restaurants had already closed or switched to take out.
Other Ottawa businesses were reacting to the threat of COVID-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus, by modifying their business practices, from rationing sought-after items to refusing to handle cash or limiting the number of customers allowed in stores.
With Ottawa’s chief medical officer Vera Etches asking residents to stay at home if possible and limit all social gatherings, businesses are taking measures to protect their staff and customers and increase social distancing.
Some have simply closed, including the Bridgehead coffee chain outlets, which posted signs saying “It is with heavy hearts that we announce that Bridgehead locations are closed until further notice. This is absolutely in the best interest of our entire community. We want to thank Ottawa Public Health for their leadership and guidance. We are so proud of, and grateful for this incredible city!”
The usually bustling business strips on Richmond Road and Wellington Street West, which are dominated by locally-owned businesses, were nearly deserted on mid afternoon Monday.
Several restaurants, including Petit Bill’s Bistro, Little Jo Berry’s cafe, Baker Street Cafe, the Wellington Gastropub and Lexington Smokehouse and Bar had notices on their doors saying they were closed until further notice. Lexington said it would be offering delivery service in a few days.
West End Kids was also closed, with a notice asking customers to consider shopping online or buying online and picking up in the store later.
Others had modified their service. The Ottawa Bagelshop and Deli was no longer serving food in its restaurant, offering only bagels, deli or grocery items. Starbuck’s on Richmond Road was offering “grab and go” service only.
Sushi Umi on Wellington and Freshii on Richmond Road were only offering takeout food.
Many businesses have reduced their opening hours and some are not accepting cash to reduce the risk of handling contaminated money.
At Masters n’ Dogs pet shop on Richmond Road, manager Michele Witteveen was wielding a container of Lysol wipes that she used to clean the counter and even some of the package of dog food and other items as customers purchased them.
“We are hands off as much as we can, we’re cleaning as much as possible,” she said. “I wash my hands about every half hour. In between customers, we are cleaning the door handles.
“It’s not as hard for us, because we are a small store, so we don’t tend to get as may customers in at once.”
The locally-owned business also offers dog grooming, but customers are now asked to bring pets in without collars and leashes to reduce the risk to staff. A sign on the door says that “walk in nail trims” for dogs have been discontinued. Customers usually hold their dogs during the trims, which they decided was not a good idea when practising social distancing, said Witteveen.
The shop has reduced its hours, closing at 5 p.m. rather than 7 p.m., but Witteveen said she hopes they won’t need to close. They sell specialty pet foods that aren’t available at grocery stores. “If we do have to close, our plan is to look at probably doing deliveries – door drop offs.”
At the Running Room on Richmond Road, hours have been reduced and running clinics and workshops have been cancelled, said manager Jennifer Brûlé. The store can also sell online, she said.
Business was unusually busy on the weekend with people buying running shoes, she said. “I think everyone was thinking they need to get their spring running shoes in case the store closes.”
There was a lineup of about 20 people in front of Superette cannabis shop on Wellington because the business was limiting the number of customers allowed in at one time.
Several stores, including Mountain Equipment Co-op and Fjallraven Ottawa, were not accepting cash.
Elsewhere in the city, Second Cup outlets are also no longer accepting cash, have closed the self-serve stations that allow customers to add their own milk and sugar, and offer a 20 per cent discount to customers that place mobile orders and pick them up.
Happy Goat Coffee Company has closed all cafes except the one on Laurel Street, which will sell to-go coffee and beans.
The Rideau Centre, St. Laurent Shopping Centre and Place d’Orléans are curtailing their hours.
Some stores and pharmacies are limiting the sale of paper products.
Shopper’s Drug Mart on Bank Street at Sunnyside and the Independent Grocer at Billings Bridge, for instance, both have signs posted saying paper products like toilet paper, paper towels and tissues are limited to two per customer.
Not that there was any toilet paper remaining at either of those locations.
Those items are sold out at many stores, along with hand sanitizer and antiseptic wipes.