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COVID-19 still taking toll on some Island businesses

cbc.ca logo cbc.ca 2022-08-05 CBC/Radio-Canada

As the pandemic wears on and new waves of COVID-19 continue on P.E.I., business owners have to make tough calls about when to close down if infection strikes.

Close contacts aren't required to isolate anymore, and there are no protocols telling businesses what to do when an employee tests positive.

Saylor Hyde, owner of Mary's Cornwall Bakery, recently made the decision to close for a week after a couple of staff, and Hyde herself, came down with the virus. 

"The first person got sick, I was like 'OK, well, hopefully no one else was in contact with this person and we can get on with it.' But then the second person got sick, and I was like 'OK, we're going to have to figure out what we're going to do.'"

A temporary closure means more than lost revenues for her business.

Lost wages for her staff are also a concern, she said.

"I'm not sure how you can just keep closing your doors for a week every time COVID comes around … All the people here have to pay their bills too."

Robert Godfrey, CEO of the Greater Charlottetown Area Chamber of Commerce, says businesses want to take advantage of the busy season while managing the safety of their staff and customers. © Kerry Campbell/CBC Robert Godfrey, CEO of the Greater Charlottetown Area Chamber of Commerce, says businesses want to take advantage of the busy season while managing the safety of their staff and customers.

Many other businesses are having to make these tough calls, as well, said Charlottetown Chamber of Commerce CEO Robert Godfrey.

"You really want to take advantage of this time of year, so it's a really difficult decision. You're trying to ensure the safety of your customers, you're trying to ensure the safety of your staff."

Special leave fund

Businesses can still apply to government's special leave fund to cover staff's wages when their employment is impacted by COVID-19. Workers may also be eligible for EI depending on the situation.

Beyond that, government help is limited at this point in the pandemic.

Godfrey said some businesses are staying open after cases hit, but getting their remaining staff to test regularly.

Though Hyde noted that with many already facing staffing shortages, COVID-19 is leaving some with too few workers to stay open regardless.

"If you have five staff members out, you can't really do your job correctly anyways," she said.

"And everyone's going to be tired and run down, and it's hot."

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