Podcast: Ottawa’s reopening, COVID-19 waivers and terra20’s expansion

In this Behind the Headlines podcast episode, OBJ publisher Michael Curran speaks with OBJ editors Peter Kovessy and David Sali about some of the week’s biggest news stories.

This is an edited transcript of the panel discussion. To hear the full interview, please watch the video above. Prefer an audio version of this podcast? Listen to it on SoundCloud or Spotify. 

CURRAN: Peter, let’s start with phase three of the economy’s reopening, which we are entering into today. What will that mean for businesses?

KOVESSY: Restaurants, bars, gyms and theatres can all resume indoor services. This is exciting for a few reasons. The first one, of course, is that businesses can welcome customers back through their doors. But this is also one more degree of normalcy back in our lives. If we continue to see relatively low numbers of new COVID-19 cases, I think this could go a long way in boosting both business and consumer confidence. Again, this is welcome news, but it does have to be tempered with the reality that a lot of these businesses still have a hole to dig themselves out of after going months with reduced or no revenues.

CURRAN: Some law firms are recommending that businesses have customers sign waivers to protect themselves in case people do contract COVID-19 while on their premises. Dave, tell us about this idea. 

SALI: The idea started when St. Francis Xavier University announced they will require all students to sign waivers before they take classes this fall. When it comes to businesses, however, it really needs to be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. As one lawyer told me, the riskier the environment, the greater the need for a waiver, which in some cases could add another level of protection against potential lawsuits. 

Gyms, for example, may be a good fit, but many restaurants told me they don’t see a need since customers understand the risks before they enter. Many organizations, however, will be taking down customers' information for contact tracing, should it be necessary in the future. 

CURRAN: Terra20 is opening a new location in the middle of a pandemic, which is rare for us to see. Dave, can you give us some insight into that project as well? 

SALI: The natural products company opened its newest franchise location at the Ottawa Train Yards this week, backing up the company’s stance that there is still a market for physical stores. The company wants to reach a broader audience and encourage them to engage with the eco-friendly products. The best way to do that is to have a place where customers can touch the products, ask questions about them and have that face-to-face engagement. They are exploring opening even more stores both in Ottawa and the Greater Toronto Area.