“After talking with my team about the cases they were investigating it is clear that strong measures at this time is an absolute necessity,” said top doc Robert Strang yesterday at an impromptu COVID-19 briefing.
The news was a surprise for many restaurants, which had gotten correspondence from the Restaurant Association of Nova Scotia just hours earlier, indicating the province was going to respond to the surge in cases by imposing a 50 percent capacity limit.
- The email from RANS was a bit off. SUBMITTED
“It jumped too fast and the modelling showed that it was even going to go higher,” he says on Friday. ”So, when we had a meeting with the government again, they basically informed us we’re going into kind of a semi-shutdown mode and it would be cross-sector, a number of industries involved.”
Stewart says there wasn’t time to warn restaurants, and the short-term problems will mainly be overstock of supplies like fresh produce, meats and other perishables. “In some cases some suppliers were taking back some loads, some have a program of take-out food 50 percent off to kind of cut down inventory as fast as they can,” he says.
Some restaurants remained open for eating in Thursday night, in a last attempt to sell off already-purchased ingredients.
We ordered food for a busy weekend and will throw most of it out by Monday. Come tonight. Eat food. Drink while you can. Closed tomorrow.— Millstone Public House (@millstone_pub) April 22, 2021
It's a hard call, many got their food deliveries today stocking up for the weekend. Much of this food may go to waste. Hope what can't be sold will be donated to food banks and kitchens.— World Tea House - Phil Holmans (@WorldTeaHouse) April 22, 2021
But in the meantime, the shutdown means many servers, cooks and other restaurant staff will be laid off. “A lot of new hires are just starting this weekend,” says Stewart. “They’ll get laid off before they’ll officially get hired on, which is unfortunate but that’s what going to happen.”
For those laid off, the CRB benefit still runs until September. For business owners, Stewart says the wage and rent subsidies will run until at least June, and that the province has plans to introduce a new round of the small business impact grant. “We’ll be working with the province to put out a new one-time grant to help out for other costs of businesses because [they'll have] no revenue,” he says.
And while the financial hurdles are undeniable, Halifax restaurants—now on a third shutdown in 13 months—are better prepared in terms of take-out options.
“There’s more support in place when we start the programs. If you look at the first run there was nothing there at all, the second shutdown there wasn’t a lot,” says Stewart. “At least there’s supports in place.”
As they wait out the lockdown, HRM residents are online, telling each other about their favourite take-out spots.
This would be a very good day to choose takeout from your favourite small business/neighbourhood place if you are in a position to do so. #Halifax #Dartmouth #Bedford #COVID19NS #COVID19 #NS #LocalLove #SupportSmallBusinesses— Peady✨#wysiwyg (she/her) (@Peady) April 23, 2021
Getting some @OldPortPub take out for supper tonight with @LynnetteM14 . Remember #Halifax please support your local establishments during the lockdown. So they can be there for us after the lockdown. Take out, buy gift certificates do what you can! #SupportLocal— Craig Appleby (@Craig_Appleby) April 23, 2021