New Businesses Especially Challenged to Survive as Pandemic Lockdown Affects York Region Again
Richmond Hill, ON – The owners of Richmond Hill’s The Glasshouse Studios had a rollercoaster of a year with the launch of their new photography studio being significantly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. After the lockdown in the spring postponed the opening of their business, the studio has been devastated yet again as York Region enters the Grey-Lockdown zone today.
This situation highlights the limited resources and assistance available to new businesses. Co-owners Shiri Shapiro and Sofiya Gendelman pooled their life savings into the creation of their photography studio which finally opened in September. However, due to the COVID-19 related delays in opening, the business fails to qualify for many government assistance programs including CERS Rent and CEWS wage subsidies.
“Being caught in the ‘grey’ area, we are not an essential business based on provincial government guidelines, yet we are a business that can operate safely within the COVID-19 safety framework,” explains Ms. Shapiro. “Since day one, we have implemented all proper safety measures including social distancing; controlling the number of people in the studio; taking temperatures of all arriving clients; and, ensuring that proper PPE is being worn. In addition, extensive sanitization measures have been put in place and we’ve invested in a new HEPA air filtration system.”
“Part of the concern is how we can best communicate to our clients about what we can, and cannot, do at this point. Why are we not allowed to bring in bubbled families for their booked photoshoots, but we can offer these same services to commercial clients?” asks Ms. Gendelman.
Ms. Shapiro and Ms. Gendelman are looking to the government for clarification about lockdown restrictions, and for guidance on available supports so they can continue to operate their business post-COVID.
“As a new business, we created brand new jobs for six staff members, invested into the local economy and poured our life savings into this dream. It’s felt like nothing but an uphill battle from the beginning,” concludes Ms. Gendelman.