Businesses are hopeful they can manage during the pandemic

COVID-19 is responsible for temporary closing some establishments

This Tim Hortons, usually open at night, is left in the dark, as COVID-19 limits its hours
TIm Hortons is one of many fast food chains to cut hours and temporary lay off employees. Many businesses are doing the same. JAYSON DIMAANO/TORONTO OBSERVER

Businesses are struggling to adjust, but they are hanging on.

“I’m very fortunate that my business is still open six days a week,” said Natasha Ramadhar, who owns Norman Sue Bakery in Scarborough.

The bakery was started by her father, Norman Sue himself, in the late 1970s. Specializing in breads, pastries and roti, Sue did not think his business would be as big as it has become. After he died in 2013, the business he started became even larger and it is still growing today.

“Coming from a big family and having trained the children, my sister and other family members, we have the backup to provide services for customers,” said Ramadhar, as she explains how her staff’s hours have been cut due to the pandemic.

Norman Sue Bakery is an essential business, serving some chain stores, such as No Frills, Real Canadian Superstore, and Food Basics. Photo Courtesy of Felisha Ramadhar.

She makes sure workers at the bakery have taken precautions to keep everyone safe, by having enough space keep everyone two metres apart. They rework the schedule if staff are close to each other.

“Our drivers are equipped with masks, gloves and sanitizer so they can be protected,” she says. “And we have sufficient place in our retail area for customers to come in and keep six feet apart.”

Natasha also shared tips on how to keep busy while in quarantine.

“Appreciate these things and spend really quality time with your family…go back to the good old fashion ‘stone age,'” she says. “[Play] board games, card games. Have popcorn movie nights. Reconnect.”

Fast-food businesses are also feeling the affect of the COVID-19 shutdown.

Josie Eusebio is a manager at a Tim Hortons in Pickering. Depending on the location, some stores, such as the one Eusebio is working in, have temporary moved to serving guests only via drive-thru, which leads to team members having to adjust to working with COVID-19.

“We still get regular customers but we have to be extra cautious,” Eusebio said.. “There is extra hand washing and we are not allowed to talk to the customers too much and wearing blue gloves (when serving) at the drive-thru.”

She also says if an order is wrong, usually the workers would take it back, but due to the pandemic, they are not allowed to do so.

COVID-19 has been responsible for the layoffs of many workers, part-time and full-time. Many of them are full-time students, including Celeste Levy, who works at a restaurant, in fast food and retail.

“Quarantine sucks,” Levy says. “We’re all so anxious because people got temporary laid-off from their jobs; people are anxious about school and all of us are waiting for our EIs to come in.”

Levy said the process for applying for an EI was simple. By following the link, she submitted her record of employment, SIN number, security questions and the days she worked.

She got temporary laid off at two of her jobs (the restaurant and retail) and permanently laid off at the other (fast food), where business was slow. The restaurant sent her record of employment right away, but she is still waiting for the other two establishments to sent theirs.

“Since I am waiting for my other record of employments, I can submit that later on, but you can start the application process right away,” Levy says. “I’d say it was pretty easy.”

Levy says if more barriers and more authority are put in place, people would take this pandemic seriously.

“The way I see it is you can close as many businesses as you want to, but that doesn’t mean people are still going to go out. They will still try to find a way.”

In the time of being cooped indoors, Celeste finds ways to stay occupied.

“Try to find a hobby. I’ve been baking, working out, getting school work done. Stay calm and think about it: you’re safe at home,” she says. “Don’t think too much of it as a lockdown.”

Stay safe. Always wash your hands, practise social distancing, only go out when you need to (such as for groceries). We’re going to be okay.

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Posted: Mar 30 2020 12:37 pm
Filed under: News