Dining in is off the table for some Cape Breton food services
SYDNEY, N.S. -- Despite being approved to reopen, some businesses have decided to remain closed as COVID-19 restrictions relax in Nova Scotia. Among those establishments are Cape Breton-based community food services, who have decided to keep their doors shut, as they fear they won't be able to meet provincial guidelines.
On Friday, the dining room at Loaves and Fishes soup kitchen in Sydney, N.S., sat empty. Since March, patrons haven't been allowed to eat at the nearly 40-year-old community kitchen – and that rule isn't changing anytime soon.
"We can serve over 200 people in the three hours we're open," says Loaves and Fishes general manager, Marco Amati. "With the restrictions now, with six-feet between them [patrons], we can only serve 16 at a time."
Physical distancing and capacity is also a challenge facing staff at the Glace Bay Food Bank, which provides hot meals five days a week.
"It sucks, everybody is asking when they can sit down like family again," says Glace Bay Food Bank coordinator, Michelle Kalbhenn. "When they come in, everybody sits with friends, and they talk, and they hang around; then, they go their separate ways until we do it all over again."
However, food banks and soup kitchens aren't the only ones facing challenges – businesses are delaying reopening too.
A Swiss Chalet location in Sydney has informed customers that there are many measures they must put in place before people can dine-in. Fortunately for fans of the chain restaurant, it could open within the second week of June.
Meanwhile, clients of various food services say their experience procuring food – or anything, for that matter – hasn't been the same.
"It's like everything else, no matter where you go," says food bank client, Fred Peach. "You used to be able to talk to people when you go into the bargain shop, now you have to stand in line, or any of the stores – it's different."
In addition, a lack of volunteers is also keeping the soup kitchens closed.
"We have volunteers that have come here for years," says Amati. "They have told me they're not coming back until there is a vaccine – so where do you go from there?"
In the meantime, take-out remains the only option available to those looking for a hot meal – as people adjust to the new normal.