New pandemic restrictions leave restaurant owners/managers in disbelief and confused as to what the next steps are.
Dr. Bonnie Henry and health officials have implemented a three-week ‘circuit breaker’ style lockdown adding new restrictions on indoor dining in restaurants.
Though patios will remain open, indoor dining has been suspended and all food and liquor-serving premises must solely depend on takeout and delivery services.
With new restrictions taking place, restaurant owners/managers are worried that staff won’t be able to take such large amounts of time off work and will start looking for new jobs.
“We’ve been busy lately and it’s getting busier and busier every week and now, this again,” said Tanya Healey, manager of The Chalet restaurant. “All my employees are going to be laid off, the only person we can keep is a cook, […] so what are they suppose to do wait for EI? Will the government provide more funding? If they’re shutting everything down again, what’s next?”
As restaurants are still picking up the pieces from hits they’ve experienced last year, the new restrictions took owners/managers by storm saying they weren’t prepared for this kind of shutdown.
“In the morning we heard there was a possibility that restaurants might be closed then the announcement came on a 1 pm,” said Christine Drabik, owner of Rosario’s restaurant, of the March 29 new public health orders.
“The situation is really stressful, we weren’t expecting this at all, […] last time we were kind of prepared that [restrictions] were going to happen but this was something that we weren’t ready for,” said Drabik. “We had a lot of people coming in because they were finally starting to feel more comfortable, but now we’re going to see a big decrease.”
With restaurants now forced to adapt to the new regulations, restaurant owners like Drabik will attempt to reinvent themselves by setting up an outdoor patio accommodating up to 30 people, however, Drabik is worried that neighbouring restaurants won’t have the same luxury.
“Not everyone in town has the same ability to do what we plan on doing. […] People who carry a lease and have to pay big bucks and might not have space or funds to set up a patio,” said Drabik.
Drabik also suggests that restaurant restrictions should be separated by region instead of creating a provincial suspension.
“Why are we dealing with the consequences when we’re doing everything we’re supposed to do?” said Drabik.
Throughout these challenging times, owners/managers are still remaining optimistic and are anticipating that the new restrictions will be lifted after three weeks.
“I’m hoping after the 19th they tell us this isn’t something that’ll continue and it’s happening because Easter is coming up and they’re trying to prevent large gatherings,” Healey said.
For more information about B.C.’s province-wide restrictions go to gov.bc.ca/covid19.