Local restaurants choosing to close indoor dining in response to climbing COVID-19 cases
KITCHENER -- Some local restaurants are deciding to close indoor dining as COVID-19 cases continue to soar in Waterloo Region and across Ontario.
“We have kind of read the writing on the wall and realized how likely it is that we will see cases come through the restaurant,” said Nick Benninger of the Fat Sparrow Group, which operates a number of restaurants in Waterloo Region.
Benninger wants to protect staff from the contagious Omicron variant, which is spreading rapidly in the community.
“The last thing we want to do is to have to tell our team that they have to isolate over the holidays,” he said. “If things continue to spiral out of control, we may remain in this pattern, but we hope to reopen dining soon.”
Taco Farm and Jacob’s Grill, both operated by Fat Sparrow Group, converted to take-out only on Thursday.
Other restaurants, bars, and taphouses are making similar moves.
A social media post from Ethel’s Lounge in Waterloo indicated that the bar is reverting to takeout and online sales for the protection of the community and staff.
Waterloo Brewing has also closed their taphouse to protect staff and the community, but are keeping their beer store open.
“We are seeing it more now than any of the other waves,” said James Rilett of Restaurants Canada.
He said it’s becoming more common despite restaurants being currently allowed to operate at 50 per cent capacity.
“They can no longer go on losing money,” he said. “They have to minimize the amount they’re losing and they also have to look out for the health of their staff and themselves.”
Ian McLean of the Greater KW Chamber of Commerce said the situation requires the federal government to continue with rent assistance and wage subsidies, but also for the province to step up on cash flow.
The evolving situation is putting more pressure on the restaurant industry, which has struggled throughout the pandemic.
“Giving up indoor dining does hurt the bottom line quite a bit, but being able to sustain the rest of the business along the way means a lot,” said Benninger. “I think a lot of restaurants are looking at it the same way."