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Sudbury businesses brace for return of COVID-19 restrictions Wednesday

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Business owners in Sudbury say it’s a disappointing step backward, but it’s one they’re used to as strict capacity limits return at 12:01 a.m. on Wednesday.

“I’m not exactly happy about it, but if it prevents complete lockdown further down the line, then I would much prefer that over locking down again,” said Chris Cunningham, owner of Jak’s Diner on Barrydowne Road.

As of Wednesday, capacity limits are back in effect for places that require proof of vaccination like sit-down restaurants and gyms.

The measures are an attempt to slow the spread of the disease in the city, where hundreds of cases have been added in recent weeks. Another 33 cases were announced Tuesday, and three new outbreaks: at The Rock Harley-Davidson, The Grand Nightclub and Holy Trinity Catholic School.

Cunningham said he'd rather officials act now, before a full lockdown becomes necessary.

“It’s a little bit frustrating,” he said. “But it’s better than closing completely.”

During a media conference Monday, Public Health Sudbury & Districts also said it would be strengthening mask mandates at public events, both inside and outdoors similar to what was seen earlier in the pandemic.

A new restriction this time around requires proof of vaccination for anyone aged 12 and older playing organized sports.

Officials at the YMCA in Sudbury said they were prepared.

“We actually put in place when the vaccination policy was rolled out that anyone entering the facility 12 plus, regardless if they were participating in an active sport or not, had to be vaccinated,” said Kendra MacIsaac.

“In terms of some of the physical distancing that has been put back in place, again, we have so much space here at the Y that that’s something we’re easily able to accommodate.”

Business owners were able to operate at full capacity for a few weeks. For Cunningham, that meant having all tables open again. including the diner counter.

“We have a lot of loyal regulars who eat by themselves, so they would prefer to eat at the counter alone instead of taking up a table,” he said. “So they’re the ones that are going to feel it the most.”

At the YMCA, reopening meant all equipment was open without having to skip every other machine in order to maintain physical distancing.

“As we get busier, there were points in time where all treadmills were being used so members will have to take turns and use the equipment as its available based on the limited number now that we will have in place,” said MacIsaac.

However, with active COVID-19 cases in the city sitting at 263, officials with the Greater Sudbury Chamber of Commerce said the new restrictions are needed.

“It’s unfortunate that we are under restrictions once again,” said Neil Milner. “But they are necessary in order to ensure that we don’t get further restrictions later.”

Milner said that even though it is frustrating, businesses really do still need the community’s support.

“From my perspective, they’re doing a great service to the community in helping us limit the spread of COVID-19," he said.

"I would actually ask that the community continue to support local and please let the staff and owners know that their hard work and efforts are appreciated."

Right now, there is no end date on when Sudbury will be able to join the rest of the province again and lift the restrictions.

But officials said it’s critical that people continue to do their part so that eventually, things can return to normal.

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