‘I’ve never seen anything like this’: Small businesses shutter amid coronavirus pandemic

You won’t find anyone seated in the vinyl booths, there’s no chatter and clatter coming from the restaurant, and there’s no one manning the old cash register, wishing you a good day.

For the first time in more than 61 years, the Wexford Restaurant is closed.

“I’ve never seen anything like this,” says Tony Kiriakou while seated in the empty restaurant, a pillar in Toronto’s east end.

“I’ve seen it bad in Europe, from what I came from, but not in Canada, so I hope we’ll get a lot better.”

This is just one example of how COVID-19 is impacting businesses across the county. Small mom and pop establishments are concerned about what the coming months have in store. Kiriakou will have to wait it out.

“Maybe it will take one or two months but we will survive. You just have to obey the rules, what they tell you. Stay home.”

The coronavirus pandemic has infected more than 395,000 people globally and killed over 17,000. More than 103,000 people have recovered so far, mostly in China. But as COVID-19 spreads across Canada, Ontario has taken measures to close all non-essential businesses in an effort to curtail the virus, meaning restaurants that do not offer take out must close.

“A lot of people, they’re going to suffer. Small business people, they’re going to go out of business. There’s no question about it,” Kiriakou says.

Although it’s hard to focus on the silver lining, there’s still hope for people like Kiriakou who’ve poured their hearts and souls into their work.

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“I hope we’re going to stay another 61 years to come. Maybe the kids will continue to do good work.”

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