Restaurant group says lockdown reopenings cost businesses over $100 million

In an open letter addressed to Ontario Premier Doug Ford, Restaurants Canada estimated that Ontario food service businesses had to dish out over $100 million in reopening and closing costs as a result of the province’s third lockdown.

Restaurants Canada President and CEO Todd Barclay and Ontario Restaurant Hotel & Motel Association President and CEO Tony Elenis both signed the document calling on the provincial  government to intervene and help save the 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 claims.

“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.” 

Both Barclay and Elenis go on to call for “fair and effective” measures to be implemented to all industries equally. The letter also recommends that the provincial government keep patio dining open as an “alternative to private gatherings” and to support ailing restaurants through additional funding. 

A number of restaurant owners have not taken Ford’s order lightly, including Antler Kitchen and Bar who sent the Ontario government a $431.55 invoice for beer that will be spoiled because of Ford’s lockdown announcement.

Prior to the Easter long weekend, Ford announced a new spat of province-wide restrictions which included a ban on indoor gatherings of all sizes and a limit of five people for outdoor gatherings. Under Ontario’s current rules restaurants were also ordered to close their doors for indoor and outdoor dining. 

Further restrictions are expected this week as the Ford government is set to announce a provincewide stay-at-home order. Under the government’s latest lockdown, nonessential retail will be restricted to curbside pickup only and big box stores will be restricted to essential items only. 

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