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Restaurants Canada calls on next BC government to support foodservice industry

Restaurants are likely to be among the slowest sectors of the economy to recover from the pandemic.
Empty restaurant and bar area. Photo: Getty Images

Restaurants Canada has put out a plea to all parties looking to form the next government in B.C.: Help the province's restaurants get through the COVID-19 crisis.

The organization is asking whoever forms the next government to adopt recommendations to help an industry hit hard by lockdowns and public health orders that have hampered the industry, according to a news release.

Restaurants were ordered to close in-house dining in mid-March and, when they were allowed to reopen, were restricted to the number of patrons they could seat due to physical distancing guidelines.

In early September, with cases of COVID-19 again on the rise, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry ordered alcohol service in bars and restaurants cut off at 10 p.m.

“Restaurants are critically important to creating jobs, economic growth and vibrant neighbourhoods,” said Mark von Schellwitz, Restaurants Canada VP, Western Canada.

“Restaurants Canada looks forward to working closely with British Columbia’s next government to ensure foodservice businesses have what they need to continue contributing to the province’s recovery.”

He says restaurants will be among the slowest sectors of the economy to recover from the pandemic, saying it could take a year or more.

In a recent survey conducted by the association, 45 per cent of restaurants responding say they are operating at a loss, while 20 per cent say they are just breaking even.

Of those operating at a loss, 75 per cent say they will need at least a year, and in some cases, more than 18 months in which to recover.

Von Schellwitz says about 112,000 foodservice workers lost their jobs or had their hours cut to zero by April. While many jobs have been restored, he says about 14,000 people have still not returned to work.

“With colder months approaching, restaurants will need continued assistance to keep fulfilling their vital role within British Columbia’s economy."

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