When I woke up on Friday morning, some difficult news was waiting for me. Swiping up my phone’s screen, I saw a push notification that moved while I had been sleeping: “Ontario orders hospitals to halt non-emergency surgeries as COVID-19 patients fill ICUs.”
The pandemic news out of Ontario has been troubling all week — indeed, for weeks now — and stands in contrast not only to the clinical situation here in Newfoundland and Labrador, but to a story that’s been back in the news in the last few days. Namely, the aspirations in the tourism industry of getting fully back to normal.
“Ontario is our hub, and without Ontario, our businesses here aren’t going to function right. They can’t,” Ernie Watkins, who owns the Twillingate-New World Island Dinner Theatre, told colleague Garrett Barry for a story we published this week.
Watkins says three out of every four of his customers come from Ontario — that is, in a normal year. Other businesses may not have quite that high a ratio, but there’s little doubt that much of N.L.’s success in tourism has been based on attracting visitors from central Canada.
Which means that another year of staycations and even the Atlantic bubble is not going to bridge the gap.
There’s the crux.
While the COVID situation here has largely been contained, Ontario is, to be blunt, on fire. The focus there…