'I hope this is a wake-up call': Restaurants react to new indoor dining restrictions
VANCOUVER -- For an industry that’s been hammered by COVID-19 restrictions for over a year, a three-week shutdown of indoor dining is another big blow.
The new measure was one of several announced Monday by provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, and left many in the service industry reeling.
“I know Dr. Henry isn’t out to get us by any means, but we are kind of low hanging fruit, and you’ve gotta start somewhere. And at this point its just another body blow,” said Justin Ault, the owner of Hapa Izakaya in Yaletown.
The owner of the Glowbal Restaurant Group, Emad Yacoub, supports Henry’s decision to suspend indoor dining until April 19, and puts the blame squarely on British Columbians who haven’t been following her health orders.
“I hope this is a wake-up call for everybody in the industry for us to get our act together and be sure we are following the guidelines. We have been blessed, we were the only province in Canada that were open during all that time,” said Yacoub. “People took advantage, and this is the consequences of it.”
“We’ve been saying for months, please follow the rules, we can keep our industry open. But by patrons choosing to have parties at home and not abiding by protocols, this is the situation we are in now,” said Jeff Guignard with the Alliance of Beverage Licensees. “It’s really sad for people who worked really hard to keep us open."
The three-week health order allows restaurants with patios to continue to provide in-person dining outside.
“If you don’t have a patio right now – and even if you do, honestly, unless it’s a beautiful sunny day – you’re going to be hurt financially by this,” said Guignard.
Ault hadn’t planned on opening his small patio at Hapa Izakaya until May 1, but now he’s racing to get it ready.
“With a 20-person patio too, I think I can speak for some on my colleagues, that brings its challenges. You have time limits on tables, you’ve got people frustrated that they can’t get on or they have to leave,” he said.
If weather is bad and people don’t flock to patios, or for restaurants who don’t have an outdoor space, this latest health order could be the final straw.
“I’m deeply worried that this decision is going to result in significant layoffs and some businesses are going to have to close and reduce their hours. There is going to be serious financial consequences from this,” said Guignard.
“There are lots of people who aren’t going to be able to make it now,” said Yacoub. “It breaks my heart. When one place closes, it means people lose their jobs.”