Home Social gathering The event industry is happy to reopen Stage 3, but still faces challenges

The event industry is happy to reopen Stage 3, but still faces challenges

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Local businesses in the events industry say they’re happy Ontario is moving to Stage 3 of its pandemic plan to reopen soon, but it’s not a completely smooth transition.

The province announced Friday that it will move to Stage 3 on July 16, five days earlier than expected.

The new guidelines allow larger religious services and other ceremonies like weddings and funerals, with physical distancing measures in place.

Social gatherings and indoor events can be held indoors with up to 25 people, while social gatherings and outdoor events can accommodate up to 100 people, with a few exceptions.

Meeting and event spaces can open at half capacity or allow 1,000 people inside, whichever is less, among other restrictions. Externally, this rises to 75% of capacity or 5,000 people.

“We’ve been waiting for this for a long time, as have my bride and groom,” said Tony Zacconi, owner of the Sala San Marco Event Center.

“People changed the date two, three times and everything. So it’s really, really encouraging,”

Zacconi was able to pivot and run a restaurant for most of the pandemic, but he still had to lay off staff. He estimates his business has lost at least half a million dollars and also says he feels bad for customers and guests.

“They come to [me] saying, ‘Hey, Tony, what’s going to happen? Are we going to be able to do it? And I don’t have an answer for them, â€Zacconi said.

Spaced tables at the Sala San Marco Event Center. (SRC)

Confusing change of rules

As phones are now ringing with people trying to book events, Zacconi said it was difficult to find staff as his former employees have moved on to other jobs.

At the Bean Town receptions in Plantagenet, Ont., Owner Genevieve Desjardins said there was immense pressure to interpret all of the new rules both correctly and quickly.

Desjardins said she had called different authorities, including the local health unit and her community’s policy department, and continued to get different responses.

“We just want to be safe. We don’t want to be the industry that creates another epidemic,†Desjardins said.

When it comes to rebuilding the local tourism industry, taking step 3 is good news, but “is only part of the story,” said Catherine Callary, vice president of development destinations from Ottawa Tourism.

“That doesn’t mean we’re there yet in terms of tourism recovery in Ottawa,†Callary said.

Callary said Ottawa relies quite heavily, especially in the fall, on business travel for conferences and large-scale cultural and sporting events, which will take longer to recover.

The fact that Ottawa’s rules conform to those across the river in Gatineau, Quebec, however, provides visitors with more clarity on what they can and cannot do, she said. added.


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