“I’m so scared for the future”; Collingwood restaurants brace for impact of latest COVID rules

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On Monday, the provincial government announced a return to an amended second stage of the roadmap for reopening, which calls for restaurants to be closed to in-person meals from Jan.5 for at least three weeks.

Restaurants are once again bracing for the impact of Premier Doug Ford’s latest announcement, which will end in-person dining across Ontario for at least 21 days starting Jan. 5.

Ford on Monday announced the province would revert to an amended second stage of the roadmap for reopening due to what it called a “tsunami” of new COVID-19 cases, which will include lowering limits gathering, closing gyms and indoor restaurants, and moving from schools to virtual learning.

In Collingwood, the local restaurants are disappointed, but more prepared this time around.

“Of course, it’s frustrating, because it’s happened so many times. It’s hard to believe we still have this problem two years later, ”said Tony Morew, part owner of the Huron Club. “We have just started to gain ground. “

Morew says that despite previous restrictions, including limiting in-person capacity and being only open until 10 p.m. on New Years Eve, his restaurant has had a very busy holiday season.

He said it was difficult during previous closings to order food and drink for the restaurant when the announcements are made on such a short notice. He said he heard rumors about today’s announcement over the weekend and therefore postponed the order this week in preparation.

“We’re getting used to it a bit, but hopefully it’s the end,” Morew said. “We are closing hoping for better days. With such a high number of cases, I don’t think they had a choice.

The Huron Club will still be open for take out and delivery starting January 5th.

“We have designed a take-out menu. We’re so good at it because we’ve had the time to do it, ”he said with a laugh. “We’re going to work take out to pay the bills, basically. “

Doris Sensenberger is the owner of The Iron Skillet, which has a location in both Collingwood and Wasaga Beach.

“I feel very mixed,” Sensenberger said of Ford’s announcement. “I want to support the downsizing to relieve the hospital staff … but I’m dealing with a lot of staff who have just returned to work. We have about 40 employees between the two restaurants.

“I feel like we’re doing everything we can. My gut tells me it’s not going to help when we leave the Walmarts and big box stores open, ”she said.

Retail stores, including shopping centers, can open at 50% capacity, according to Monday’s announcement.

“We are taking great precautions. We do everything we’re supposed to do. I have a huge dining room. I could seat 20 people and they wouldn’t be close to each other. It’s frustrating for everyone, ”Sensenberger said, adding that she was doing everything she could to support her staff to make sure they could keep a few hours.

Sensenberger says it will also return to take-out and delivery services for its restaurants from January 5.

“The take out and delivery really only supports the staff. It doesn’t do anything for the company, ”she said. “There is no profit for us because of the overhead we have. This allows the staff to continue working.

Low Down co-owner Cassie McKell says she worries the most for her staff of 10. Over the holiday season, two of her employees tested positive for COVID-19, which led her to decide to switch to take-out only during the season to prevent her remaining eight employees (all of whom were tested negative) to catch the virus.

Due to today’s announcement, she will have to maintain her surgery this way for another three weeks.

“At that time, we couldn’t have stayed open for dining inside without our full staff. We also closed because we wanted everyone to stay negative. If all of our staff ended up testing positive we would have to shut down and we would have nothing left, ”she said.

“Now being forced to stick with take-out only is a bit unsettling. It’s confusing for all of us, ”McKell said. “We have been following these protocols for two years. I don’t think it’s good for business, and it’s terrible for morale.

McKell said she sees this step as yet another blow to the work’s impact on the restaurant industry, and pointed to instances in Collingwood in recent months where restaurants in town have had to shut down completely. doors repeatedly due solely to staff shortages.

“It was so hard. If you went to a restaurant in Collingwood last summer, you saw signs for hiring or “We are understaffed”. Please be patient with us. panels. Businesses couldn’t open on certain days, ”she said.

“With that, I’m so scared for the future. The employees are going to leave. I don’t blame them at this point. Why would you want to stay in this industry? “

SEE MORE: Ontario Returns to Revised Second Stage of Roadmap to Reopen


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