Bars, restaurants 'scapegoats' as new COVID-19 restrictions imposed on Ottawa establishments, owner says
OTTAWA -- Ottawa bar and restaurant owners feel they are being singled out by the Ontario Government with new measures being imposed on the industry to try and limit the spread of COVID-19.
"Devastating, it's absolutely devastating," says Andre Shad, owner of Jasper Sports Bar.
"Premier Ford scapegoats safe, professionally operated hospitality businesses," said Flora Hall Brewing in a post on Instagram.
The Ontario Government announced Friday afternoon that Ottawa, Peel and Toronto will be moved to a modified Stage 2 for at least 28 days. Effective Oct. 10, at 12:01 a.m., indoor dining will be prohibited at bars, restaurants, nightclubs and food court areas in malls in Ottawa
Speaking on Newstalk 580 CFRA's "Ottawa Now" with Kristy Cameron, Flora Hall Brewing owner Dave Longbottom said he was shocked with the decision, but not surprised.
"I just feel that it was inevitable that a politician is going to do something. Now (Premier Doug) Ford's concern sounds heartfelt, I don't dispute that he's upset by having made this decision," said Longbottom.
"My issue is there was literally no evidence presented to justify this being an effective measure. Its been my longstanding view, and the view of many others, that socializing in a safe, professionally run hospitality establishment is far, far better than socializing at home."
Longbottom says he employs 16 people at Flora Hall Brewing, and he will "make it my top priority" to keep them employed.
"I know what kind of impact it's going to have on my people and my business, but I have zero understanding what kind of impact it's going to have on the fundamental problem that is the spread of COVID," said Longbottom about the new restrictions.
"We in our establishment are constantly enforcing the public health measures that were recommended. We've got four people per table, instead of six."
At Jasper Sports Bar, Shad warns the new restrictions will have an immediate impact on the business.
"We’ve already laid off staff for months at a time, and then tomorrow, I’m going to go in and tell all my staff they’re laid off again," said Shad.
At the Brass Monkey on Greenbank Road, owner Scott Ruffo said he wasn't shocked by the announcement, but he is definitely concerned.
"I'd say with small business owners, such as myself that own bars and restaurants, we've gone over and above to try and make sure our guests and our staff are safe. We've spent a lot of money to do that," said Ruffo during an interview on CTV News at Five.
"When something like this comes down, we're talking about 28 days minimum that could go on for two months, three months. We don't know yet. So it's very difficult for us to swallow across the board."
CTV News at Five anchor Matt Skube asked Ruffo if the new restrictions are fair.
"Fair is kind of a big word. Economically do I think it's fair, no," said Ruffo.
"We haven't shown any cases in Ottawa, as far as I know, that have been positively linked to bars and restaurants."