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How Ottawa Businesses Face the Challenge of COVID-19

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In an effort to keep the Ottawa community as healthy as possible and the coronavirus (COVID-19) from rapidly spreading, the University of Ottawa has implemented measures to maintain “social distancing”.

This is a tough time for all of us, and we can already see economic impacts on businesses, particularly smaller ones that you often see around your street corners. Small, local businesses may suffer during this time, but many of them have also found resourceful ways to support the Ottawa community, while maintaining their business financially. Several Ottawa businesses are “modifying their business practices, from rationing sought-after items to refusing to handle cash or limiting the number of customers allowed in stores.” 

1. Creating Access to Food

Ottawa restaurant, Dreamland Cafe, located on Preston Street in Little Italy, has chosen to close their restaurant to the public. However, they stay open with special hours to make delicious meals ready for delivery or pickup at the back. Dreamland Cafe expanded their online menu (including homemade pasta sauce) and lowered their prices to help out during this financially difficult time. You can order from them using UberEATS, since Uber has decided to waive delivery fees to also assist the community during this time.

Like Dreamland, Luxe Bistro, located in the Byward Market, has taken a similar approach. They will be closed to the public, but are open for take-out by providing their food via UberEATS, DoorDash, and offering "drive-through" and personal home delivery service. They are even offering a few grocery staples to customers in order to keep grocery stores from getting too busy.

Although many food stores and restaurants made the difficult decision to close, La Bottega Nicastro did what they could before closing up shop. They donated over $1,000 worth of food to Operation Ramzieh, a crisis Relief team that has assembled to assist seniors and other vulnerable Canadians during the COVID-19 crisis. 

Many other restaurants making an effort to serve the community with the availability of their food include:

2. Promoting Physical Activity

As we are all advised to stay inside, many gyms and fitness studios have closed in the city to help reduce the spread of germs. One Ottawa dance studio has come up with an idea to help citizens stay active, while participating in online live video dance classes. Dance Fusion Studio has emailed their dancers providing virtual classes via Zoom to help you “dance away in your living room” while you are staying inside.

In addition, popular Ottawa yoga studio run by co-entrepreneurs Amber and Jen, Pure Yoga, is hosting yoga sessions on their online platform, where they have over 150 classes available. ⁣⁣During this time, they are offering the first two weeks free, and a discounted price using specific promotional code.

Other Ottawa fitness and wellness businesses that are adapting to these new circumstances include:

3. Supporting Hobbies

Wallack’s Art Supplies is a store on the corner of Bank Street full of art supplies for those of you who are painters, sketch artists, and do-it-yourself enthusiasts. They too have closed their store due to advice from public health officials, but their online store remains open with both pick-up and delivery options available. 

Local bookstore on Bank Street, Black Squirrel Books, is putting together and delivering packages of mystery books for their customers. According to the Ottawa Citizen, “Customers can select any genre they’re interested in — mysteries, fiction, history, self-help, children’s books, etc. — or simply order a surprise box. With either option, customers have no idea of what specific titles they’ll receive.”

Many other local businesses have modified their business models to serve the many needs and interests of the Ottawa community, such as:

4. Keeping Us Healthy and Protected from the Virus

Several local businesses are stepping up to the plate when it comes to staying healthy by using their existing resources. For example, Perth distillery, Top Shelf Distillers, has been producing hand sanitizer to combat the depleting amounts in stores. They launched a “crowdfunding campaign to fund the production, procurement and scale of batches of hand sanitizer as the already overwhelming demand grows,” which was extremely successful as they exceeded their fundraising goal in just one day, sharing their story on CTV News.

Another distiller contributing to sanitation efforts is Dairy Distillery in Almonte, located about an hour outside of Ottawa. The company is creating two products: a surface sanitizer, and a large format hand sanitizer with a pump. They wanted to share these products with members of the community, including health clinics, hospitals, veterinarian hospitals, and charities.

In addition, members of the University of Ottawa are finding a way to directly help healthcare workers stay protected from the virus. At Makerspace on campus, Midia Shikh Hassan, a manager at the university’s Centre for Entrepreneurship and Engineering Design (CEED), is using 3D printers and laser cutters to manufacture vital personal protective equipment. CEED can create 10 to 20 face shields every two hours, and plans to make even more equipment needed with feedback from physicians from The Ottawa Hospital.

You can support our local businesses by purchasing gift cards, shopping online, or ordering take-out or delivery items.

What local businesses have you noticed making a change during this time? Let us know some of your favourites and what they are doing to support the Ottawa community.