Barrie chamber joins with other business groups urging Province to revisit “blunt tool” of current COVID-19 colour-coded framework

In a letter to Premier Doug Ford, titled Reform of COVID-19 Operating Restrictions Framework: A Responsible Business Protocol, Barrie chamber executive director Paul Markle joins with other business leaders calling on the Province to “revisit and refine” the framework

The Greater Barrie Chamber of Commerce has joined with other business groups to urge the Province to rework its colour-coded framework for operating under COVID-19 restrictions.
In a letter to Premier Doug Ford, titled Reform of COVID-19 Operating Restrictions Framework: A Responsible Business Protocol, chamber executive director Paul Markle joins with other business leaders calling on the Province to “revisit and refine” the framework.
“We appreciate the responsiveness of your government in combatting this pandemic and your understanding of the damaging toll it is taking on Ontario’s business community. Forecasts of rising business bankruptcies, supplier, and bank delinquencies due to operating restrictions imposed by the current lockdown framework are alarming,” reads the letter.
“Although we are optimistic about the vaccine rollout, our business communities also know that many months of safety protocols and operating restrictions are before us. Given the long-term forecast, now is the time to revisit and refine the regional operating restrictions framework to ensure it keeps Ontarians safe, builds business confidence and does not unduly harm our economy.”
The current framework, continues the letter, “is often referred to as a blunt tool because of its geographic, rather than business-specific, approach” because it “does not address what many public health units recognize as a bigger spread issue – community contact reduction.”
A Responsible Business Protocol was recommended by the Brampton Board of Trade in January, which suggested amending the colour-coded framework with better definitions of safe operating protocols by sector, “and recommends adding a community contact reduction framework to better address pandemic spread.”
The protocol say the responsibility of adhering to a “common safe operating framework” should be the responsibility of the business community. That would include simplifying the rules by sector, addressing community contact reduction, and minimizing damage to the economy.
“At the heart of the protocol is the understanding that compliance with safety standards is an integral part of running a business. It impacts every size and sector, from retail and restaurants to construction and manufacturing. The primary reason Ontario businesses are leaders in workplace safety is to protect their employees and customers. Compliance with regulations that continue to evolve is taken seriously. Businesses are accustomed to having their ability to operate depend on their compliance with current safety standards.”
Suggested revisions include:
A Safe Operating Framework (by business sector): The framework should advise business owners on operating guidelines for their establishment (restaurant/hair salon/gym, etc) in order to protect their staff and clients from COVID-19 exposure
A Community Contact Reduction Framework (based on regional virus spread): As the cases rise in a particular region, the government should enforce reduction in community contacts. We know it is not the business itself that becomes less safe, it is the contact between community members that is less safe
“The Responsible Business Protocol, together with a safe operating framework by sector and community contact reduction framework, fairly applied across the board (ie both at national big-box and local retail stores) is a much better way to combat COVID, build consumer and business confidence, and not unduly harm the economy. We welcome an opportunity to discuss this matter further at your earliest convenience.”

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