As the province heightens restrictions during its second wave of COVID-19, Ontario’s restaurants are calling for Premier Doug Ford to strike a dedicated task force to help them survive.
The advocacy group, along with 45 leaders from the food service sector, sent the Ford government an open letter asking for more transparent data to better understand why they’ve been singled out.
“When jurisdictions experience rising cases, restaurant operators deserve to know why, and what they can do to continue playing an important role in the economic recovery of their communities,” said Restaurants Canada President and CEO Todd Barclay.
Barclay wants to understand what is driving government decisions related to dining restrictions.
By Restaurants Canada’s estimation, about 50 per cent of all independent restaurants will be forced to close by March 2021.
At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, 800,000 foodservice workers were laid off or had their hours cut down to zero.
Restaurants Canada estimates 188 thousand industry jobs have already been lost due to COVID-19 closures with another 100 thousand job losses looming during this second wave.
The group wants a provincial taskforce to develop a framework for ensuring businesses facing significant restrictions are provided aid to survive and recover as well as promote the safety precautions the industry has taken.
“Since the start of the pandemic, our members have been investing millions to protect the health and safety of their staff and patrons,” said Barclay in a statement.
Restaurants Canada is also pushing for the moratorium on commercial tenant evictions to remain in place for as long as their operations are limited by COVID-19 restrictions.
The current rules for restaurants in Ontario
Green/Prevent: Indoor dining is permitted. Tables must be at least two-meters apart. Face masks are required when not eating and drinking. Contact information will be collected.
Yellow/Protect: Mandatory closure of restaurants by midnight. Alcohol sales end at 11 p.m. Seating limits of six people.
Orange/Restrict: 50-person indoor limit. Restaurants close by 10 p.m. Alcohol sales end at 9 p.m. All patrons should be screened and only four people will be seated at a table.
Red/Control: 10-person capacity limit for restaurants and bars. No dancing or singing allowed.
Grey/Lockdown: The measures here would be similar to what happened in Stage 1.