Operators of Vancouver music venues say they can't survive capacity limits much longer
Operators of Vancouver music venues say B.C.'s COVID-19 restrictions are pushing their businesses to the brink of closure.
As of now, live music venues can only be half full, and people in attendance cannot dance and must remain seated.
For the owner of the Fox Cabaret, Darlene Rigo, this means her business can only allow 90 people inside at the moment, down from its regular capacity of 262.
"Were probably making about a quarter or a third of our usual revenues right now," Rigo said.
Rigo says the business relies heavily on the dance floor, and doesn’t have enough seating to even reach the 50 per cent capacity limit.
"We’re almost at the point where we would lose less money if we shuttered the business completely again," she said.
Rigo and other music venue owners, like Rickshaw Theatre owner Mo Tarmohamed. booked shows back in the spring, anticipating that capacity limits would be lifted by the fall. B.C. was initially scheduled to enter Step 4 of its reopening plan in early September, but opted not to do so because infections and hospitalizations remained unacceptably high.
While capacity restrictions were lifted for restaurants and gyms during earlier reopening phases, music venues have been left behind, and now they’re paying the price.
"I've had to cancel eight shows, and five of them were completely sold out at our original capacity," said Tarmohamed.
As of Oct. 24, British Columbians will be required to be fully vaccinated to enter restaurants, gyms, sporting events and concerts.
Rigo is holding out hope that this will prompt the province to finally lift the capacity and dance floor restrictions.
“If we can’t get back to generating the revenue we used to, we may not be able to stay in business, unfortunately,” she said.