In the wake of Ontario’s latest province-wide shutdown, two foodservice industry groups are pushing for the Ford Government to reverse the decision to close down patios.
Restaurants Canada and the Ontario Restaurant Hotel and Motel Association wrote in a joint letter Tuesday about the struggles facing the foodservice industry.
“Last week’s abrupt move to shut down all dining so soon after easing restrictions has cost Ontario’s restaurants more than $100 million in reopening and closing costs alone. They are counting on your government to act quickly to save our industry, which typically employs more than 450,000 people,” the letter reads.
The organizations are calling for patios to remain open as an alternative to gathering at home, helping with the spread of coronavirus and improving mental health and well-being.
“Patio dining should remain available as an alternative to private gatherings, as safe options for enjoying outdoor activities are important for people’s mental health.”
“When provincial and municipal health officials encouraged restaurants to reopen for patio dining in Grey-Lockdown areas, they did so in recognition of the lower risk of transmission in outdoor spaces and the need for options to support mental health and well-being,” the letter states.
“By turning around less than two weeks later to reverse this decision, while allowing other industries to continue indoor operations, your government has needlessly undercut confidence in the restaurant industry,” it continues.
The Ford government moved last week to implement a four-week shutdown across the province in response to rising coronavirus cases. According to CP24, the daily case count in Ontario has been around 3,000 for the last few days. Many experts say the restrictions aren’t strict enough.
Restaurants currently can only serve takeout or delivery, if they choose to open at all. People are still able to shop in person at businesses including malls and retails stores. The letter calls for public health measures that affects all industries equally.
“This is not an “emergency brake”: as evidenced by the crowded retail stores and plentiful private gatherings over the weekend, scapegoating the restaurant sector is clearly not going to get the province’s third wave under control... For public health measures to be fair and effective, all industries must be impacted equally,” the letter reads.
The group is calling for the government to help financially support the industry that’s falling deeper into debt. They want more funding through the Ontario Small Business Support Grant program, and a sector-specific program to cover reopening and closing costs.
“Unfortunately, we are not all in this together. In a year when so many others have continued to receive their full pay, and some industries thrived during the pandemic, those in the restaurant sector have never worked harder and lost so much through no fault of their own.”