The past year has been one of adapting to the new reality, but restaurant owners in Quebec appear to have had enough and are asking the government to finally let them welcome diners next month.
In an open letter to Quebec Premier Francois Legault, the heads of the Corporation des Propriétaires de Bars, Brasseries et Tavernes du Québec (CPBBTQ) and the Union des Tenanciers de Bars du Québec (UTBQ) are demanding the reopening of bars and restaurants on April 1.
The restaurant industry has been hit particularly hard, especially in Montreal, during the public health crisis, with establishments being forced to offer delivery and take-out service just to stay in business.
CPBBTQ president Renaud Poulin and UTB president Peter Sergakis note in their letter to the premier that in Montreal, bars and restaurants have only been able to fully operate for roughly three months, or 25 per cent of the year, and that restaurants have not been largely responsible for major outbreaks.
The tenants and employees of our industry are among the most severely and negatively affected due to the health crisis, the letter reads.
It’s time to give them some air so they can breathe again!
Many bars and restaurants have already gone out of business during the COVID-19 restrictions. Meanwhile, others are struggling to get by.
In Ontario, the province announced late Friday afternoon it was “cautiously adjusting” dining room restrictions for regions under the red zone. Starting at 12:01 a.m. Saturday, capacity limits at restaurants, bars and other food and drink establishments in the red zone in that province will be 50 per cent capacity of the indoor dining area, subject to physical distancing rules and up to a maximum of 50 people.
The call to reopen restaurants in Quebec comes as the province’s mass vaccination campaign is underway in the fight against COVID-19. So far, a total of 872,459 doses have been administered province-wide, which accounts for 9.8 per cent of Quebecs population.
At the moment, people aged 65 and older can sign up to get the dose as part of the provinces roll-out of the campaign, which is targeting vulnerable populations first.
But Quebec’s health minister said just because more and more Quebecers are getting their shots, doesnt mean life will return to normal.
On Friday, Christian Dube was asked if the rise in vaccinations is an indicator of when restaurants can finally resume dine-in service.
There is no link with that, he told reporters. I think everything, any de-confinement measures that are being allowed by my public health, takes a number of the criteria or indicators into account. Sure vaccination is one but it’s not the only one.
The letter to the government is also asking for financial assisting to the struggling industry and includes assurances restaurants would follow strict hygiene protocols to curb the spread of the virus.
On Friday, Quebec recorded another 764 cases of COVID-19 across the province for a total of 300,916 since the pandemic started.