‘We need to open things up,’ Ford visits Simcoe Muskoka days before Step 2 reopening – CTV Toronto

BARRIE, ONT. — Ontario Premier Doug Ford visited Simcoe Muskoka on Monday with stops in Orillia, just days before the province enters Step 2 of its economic reopening.

While in the Sunshine City, the premier touched on possible further provincial support for struggling businesses that have been closed for months amid lockdown restrictions.

During the pandemic, the province created a grant for small businesses with one-time payments to help support those who lost revenue due to COVID-19.

“The first round, we gave $20,000. The second round, we gave another $20,000. So a total of $3.4 billion of tax relief just on that. Plus, we paid for all the electricity, all their business taxes, all their hydro, pretty well took care of everything,” Ford said.

“Do you know what people need? As sure as the minister and the mayor will say, they need to open up. And we need to get Ontario open fully, we’re probably, what 90 per cent there, but we need to open things up and let people thrive and grow and prosper right now,” the premier added.

Business owners across Simcoe Muskoka have voiced their frustration over having to close for months.

The province enters Step 2 on Wednesday, allowing hair salons, barbershops, tattooing and nail salons to reopen after having their doors closed for most of 2021.

Additionally, capacity limits for essential and non-essential retailers jump to 50 and 25 per cent.