By Mike Williscraft
I don’t know about you, but I had a brutal week on Monday.
There was simply no grip to be had on what was unfolding in terms of this COVID-19 matter. I would love to call it something else, but this is a family publication. I may waive that designation in the near future, though.
Between Region, each Niagara West municipality, the feds, and province making announcements…quickly followed by more announcements and/or a finer detailed outline of what had just been stated, there was no way to plan or forecast what this week’s edition would look like.
Mix that in with area business folk calling, texting me in various states of panic and it made for a white wash of information and emotion. Normally on a Monday, I work until 1-2 a.m. I was all tucked in and snoozing by 10:30 p.m. Cooked.
So today brought Premier Ford’s declaration of a State of Emergency. It’s too bad this issue is not as simple as Toronto Mayor Mel’s declaration which brought in the military to clear snow in Toronto. While it was funny to many, me included, at least it had a simple goal as a target.
I defy anyone to tell me what goal they would be happy with regarding COVID-19 at this moment in time.
Sure, one could say eradication. Good luck with that.
I have to give full credit to Niagara West’s municipal leaders. I was talking, emailing and/or texting them seeminingly every hour for the last two days and they quickly dealt with every inquiry. That was much appreciated.
Residents? Generally, they seem to be getting a bit squirrelly, especially those with young families. One can only play “Go Fish” so many times, yes?
Business people? It clearly depends on what sector you are in. Retail and restaurants, serious, and I mean serious concern.
Grocery stores…having talked to several employees at different stores they are under a lot of pressure with waves of customers coming in creating big line-ups at times, but they have been doing a great job and deserve our thanks.
Service industry? Likely the most insulated. If you have to deal with your insurance provider, for example, it is pretty simple to set up an appointment: not exactly line ups in that instance.
For me, absolutely no idea how things will unfold.
I have talked to officials at my newspaper association. They are working with the province and feds as well to target some sort of support, but the reactions have been quick and costly. I’ve had a normal week’s worth ads cancelled for March and April in the last three days.
Everything is on the table to survive, just like (and I am guessing here) about half our local merchants. If the market simply stops for more than a brief time – which almost assuredly will happen – many of your favourite shops and quite possibly your favourite community newspaper could blow away in a stiff wind.
That is simple economic reality, one which became glaringly apparent as booking after booking shrivelled.
And make no mistake, I get it. The health of all, including my staff and family is #1. All the measures taken are legit and, it could be argued, a couple of weeks overdue.
Small business folk, such as myself are not big corporates like Wal-Mart, Roots or Torstar with millions available to weather economic storms. Many of your local merchants are your neighbours…they’re not living in mansions.
I have regularly asked our readers to not only support the good folks who support these pages because they ensure I exist. Today I ask you to support anyone in our area at any opportunity. Whether it is getting gas locally instead of supporting CostCo’s gas bar at 50 Road, getting an outfit at a local clothing retailer instead of shopping online, or ordering take-out from a restaurant forced to close but trying to keep at least kitchen staff employed.
I cannot tell you how much this sucks. You already know if you have had major stresses dealing with child care while you try to continue working or any other impact.
There is nothing normal about this situation. The only thing we know is the sun will keep coming up in the morning and we need to be ready for whatever comes our way when that happen. Best of luck to all!!!