Another very difficult holiday season has begun for restaurants and businesses in Quebec, following a spike in COVID-19 cases and new health restrictions.
About 150 people booked a Friday evening at two restaurants at Goppy Sandhu on the Plateau-Mont-Royal. The day after new health measures were announced in the county, the restaurateur expected no more than 30.
“Everyone is in a panic. The owner of Sandhu and India Rosa, who says he is very nervous about the situation, says I have not seen so many last minute cancellations.
What do you do with all the food that was ready to serve and with the staff packing? wonder about her. The financial consequences are inevitable.
From Concerts The Christmas party halls were due to fill up next week. However, if customers do not cancel themselves, it is Mr Sandhu’s team that will have to disqualify half of them to comply with the rules issued by the government, which from Monday will require that dining rooms are only 50% satisfied.
The situation is similar at the restaurants Etat-Major and Quartier Général. “The holiday season is very important. Everyone has been waiting for this moment to get their heads out of the mud, ”confirms Constance Tassi Gagnon, Director of Social Networks and former Chief of the General Staff. “The merchandise cannot be returned. We have to reorganize the teams and reconfigure the dining rooms. There is a lot to do in such a short period of time.”
Although they can only welcome customers without restrictions since November, the restaurateurs are back in their bad memories of Christmas 2020. The difference is that their rooms were completely closed last year, since October.
“What’s tricky is how close these changes are to Christmas. Everything was bought and ordered. On this date last year, we just ordered takeout, and we sold everything. We worked on the assembly line, and the teams were ready for it. This year, Everything is uncertain, ‘m sorryI Tassi Gagnon.
Obstacles that pile up
Many restaurant owners are terrified that a closure may be imminent. They also noted that these new setbacks are added to those who have experience obtaining alcoholic beverages, in the context of the labor dispute in the Société des alcools du Québec.
“It’s ridiculous how complicated it is to store wine. We ordered a bit crazy because we were afraid we wouldn’t have enough for the holidays,” reports Nicolas da Fonseca, sommelier and owner of Vivenveen Bar.
“We risk getting stuck with too much alcohol and food,” says Helena Sokolow, general manager of bar-restaurant Le Darling.
But for many restaurateurs, the saddest thing is having to lay off more staff. In the context of labor shortages, this is a huge problem.
“I’m afraid I will lose my team and never find them. A lot of people will change jobs. After once, twice, three times they lost their jobs, they won’t come back and I understand them,” Mr. Sandhu said with a sigh.
What can consumers do to help them? Call as soon as possible when they need to cancel to help restaurant owners plan their schedules. Another way to encourage them is to buy takeaway.
“If people want to help, they can come and furnish the beginnings and ends of the service. We open at 3pm, and at the end of the evening it’s around 10pm or later. In our case, that can change things,” says da Fonseca.
Difficulties in retailing
Retail businesses are also no exception, as they will have to limit their traffic to 50% of their capacity.
“This is the scenario last year that is repeating itself, which is regrettable to the Chairman and CEO of lingerie store La vie en rose, François Roberge. At least we remain open and try to convince the government that we are not carriers of COVID-19.”
Mr. Robertage expects queues to return in front of his stores and a significant drop in sales. Its customers will not be able to rely on online orders for their gifts, as there is no guarantee that they will receive them in time for Christmas Eve.
I’m afraid to lose my team and never find them. Lots of people will change jobs. After once, twice, three times they lost their jobs, they won’t come back and I understand them.
“Like many retailers, this is our biggest month of the year, and things are going well so far,” said the man, who also fears losing employees for good.
The vice president of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) in Quebec hopes Quebecers will show solidarity and encourage their local stores instead of turning to multinational companies like Amazon. François Vincent states that small and medium-sized businesses in Quebec are still in a precarious position. According to a survey of CFIB members, 55% of them have not returned to their pre-pandemic sales level, and nearly a quarter are worried they will not live more than a year.
Assistance procedures are in effect
Fortunately, businesses whose businesses are put at risk by sanitation measures can benefit from significant wage subsidies and rent subsidies, according to Federal Bill C-2, which passed Thursday, the last day before the holiday break.
Companies in some industries, such as tourism, accommodation, food and beverage, or arts and culture, can pay off up to 75% of their labor and premises bills through the Tourism and Hospitality Stimulus Program. However, it should show a loss of at least 40% on average this year, and 40% for the current month. The hardest-hit companies in all sectors can benefit from similar support, the rate of which is set at 50%.
But according to CFIB, these measures are not enough in the current situation. Mr Vincent believes that many companies in difficulty will “fall into the cracks” due to the caps required for assistance.
Mr. Vincent said, who wants support amounts will also be increased.
It is also asking the county government to provide direct assistance to businesses, because they can no longer afford the debt, he says.
For the workers themselves, it is Help is no longer available Pandemic is open to everyone, like Canada Economic Stimulus Benefits (CEP). The federal government only provides this kind of help, at a cost of $300 a week, in the event of a new regional containment.
In the absence of an order to close non-essential businesses or an order to stay at home, the Minister of Health, Jean-Yves Duclos, stressed Friday that the new health measures in Quebec are not technically “containment”. “We are not there yet, and we hope we will not.”
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