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Many restaurants won't survive another shutdown: association president

Gordon Stewart would like to see more enforcement of existing rules, especially when it comes to gathering limits
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(stock photo)

Another shutdown could be the final blow for many restaurants in the province already devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

At a Tuesday briefing, both Premier Stephen McNeil and Dr. Robert Strang said Nova Scotia could see a tightening of restrictions if our COVID trajectory doesn't change.

As of Wednesday, 45 positive cases have already been announced so far in November. October saw 21 new cases and there were just three in September. 

Strang confirmed Nova Scotia is once again seeing community spread, with seven cases not being able to be linked to travel outside of the Atlantic bubble.

"If community spread continues down the path, I won't think twice about shutting down the economy again," McNeil stated. "People need to understand this."

Gordon Stewart, president of the Restaurant Association of Nova Scotia, said that would be the final straw for many restaurant owners, several of whom are borrowing money or relying on credit cards to try and stay afloat.

"A full lockdown for the restaurant sector, which is probably the worst-hit sector already, most of those people would not survive even though there would be rent support and wage support," he told NEWS 95.7's The Rick Howe Show. 

"The fact is, there's no other income coming in and they have too many other bills that are already mounting, they just would not be able to make that hill and it would cause probably a massive bankruptcy in the province."

Strang said discussions are already actively taking place on what restrictions could come back, if necessary. He believes we are still at a point where we could avoid that outcome, but that would require all Nova Scotians to diligently follow public health protocols.

Stewart believes more enforcement of existing rules, especially when it comes to gathering limits, is essential if we're going to avoid another shutdown.

"You've got to stay in step with the protocols ... I see things on Facebook with people gathering all together with no masks at house parties and people are enjoying themselves, but this is a pandemic," he said.

"The fact is, they could shut down the entire province business-wise, and that's what we don't want to see."

Stewart suggested if you want to socialize, a local restaurant is a safer place to go because businesses need to follow strict safety rules and cleaning regulations, which you won't find at a house party.

He's hoping if people breaking the rules force the return of restrictions, it will only be a reduction in the hours of operation for restaurants or only shutting down businesses in hotspots instead of a full lockdown.

According to a recent report by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB), 60 per cent of Canadian business owners in the hospitality sector -- which includes restaurants -- are losing money every day they stay open, and 25 per cent are actively considering shutting down or declaring bankruptcy.


Meghan Groff

About the Author: Meghan Groff

Born in Michigan, raised in Ontario, schooled in Indiana and lives in Nova Scotia; Meghan is the editor for CityNews Halifax.
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