Food for thought: Some Halifax restaurant owners question latest restrictions
HALIFAX -- Nova Scotia’s latest COVID-19 restrictions have some Halifax restaurant owners asking questions.
When Nova Scotia announced the latest round of COVID-19 restrictions on Wednesday, restaurant owner Joel Chiasson said he felt discouraged.
“It feels like a big injustice,” said Chiasson. “There are a lot of things that you can do now, and one of the only things you can’t do is sit down at a table with your grandmother at a restaurant."
The new restrictions require restaurants in parts of the Halifax Regional Municipality and Hants County to remain closed for in-person dining until at least Jan. 11. They can still offer takeout and delivery.
Something that left Chiasson scratching his head was the decision to allow food courts to reopen while restaurants, bars and pubs still can’t allow customers to dine in.
Chiasson says when it comes time to make major decisions like closing restaurants, owners should have more input.
“We would love to know who they were in consulation with,” says Chiasson.
At Wednesday’s news update, Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia's chief medical officer of health, explained that the reopening of food courts was for a number of reasons, including giving Halifax’s homeless somewhere to go.
“I've had a number of concerns brought to my attention about the impact that this has had on people who are homeless or under-housed, so we're reopening food courts, as a small way to help people struggling with cold weather,” said Strang on Wednesday. “Often this is the only place where they can go during the day. We need to look after those who are most vulnerable in our communities.”
Halifax bar owner Joe McGuinness says the food and beverage industry is hanging on by a thread, and that establishments closing for good would be a blow to the city’s identity.
“The restaurant is the fabric of the community,” said McGuinness.
Premier Stephen McNeil says he understands the frustrations, but managing a health-care crisis has forced the province to make tough decisions.
McNeil says more financial support is on the way for businesses, including restaurants, as owners will soon be able to apply for another support grant.
McGuinness says, if he had only five minutes to speak with the premier, would ask that more information be communicated to restaurant owners.
“You have access to information. Please let us know that information that you’re looking at, so we can plan accordingly with our staff,” said McGuinness.
For now, these businesses are hoping to survive on takeout only, which represents roughly 25 per cent of revenue.