As many as 28,000 restaurant jobs have been lost in Manitoba due to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a survey by Restaurants Canada.
The non-profit, which represents restaurants nationwide, says the Manitoba numbers are part of an estimated 800,000 foodservices positions that have been lost across Canada since March 1.
Nearly one in 10 restaurants in Canada have already closed, said the organization, and nearly one in five expect to close if conditions don’t get better in a month.
“Not only was our industry among the first to feel the impacts of COVID-19, we’ve been one of the hardest hit so far, with nearly two thirds of our workforce now lost,” said Restaurants Canada’s Shanna Munro, in a release.
“In our 75 years of existence as Canada’s national foodservice association, these are by far the worst numbers we have ever seen.”
Restaurants Canada gathered the data in a survey of foodservice operators across the country from March 25 through March 29. It says it received 655 completed surveys representing 13,300 locations across Canada.
The organization says Manitoba’s $2.7-billion foodservice industry represents 3.6 per cent of the province’s GDP. It says the industry directly employs more than 44,000 workers and is the province’s number one source of first-time jobs.
James Rilett, vice-president of Restaurants Canada, said the group is working closely with government and industry stakeholders and praised the Manitoba government’s decision to defer sales tax collection from businesses including restaurants during the pandemic.
“Without the steps already taken, the impacts on our industry would be even more devastating. In this time of crisis,” said Rilett in a release.
“It is reassuring to see governments, at all levels, come to the table with solutions.”
The organization is calling for flexible arrangements from landlords to allow for payment-free periods and no-eviction orders from government to relieve pressure on those affected.
Canada’s $93-billion foodservice industry represents 4 per cent of the country’s GDP. Restaurants Canada estimates that if conditions don’t improve, foodservice sales will be down nearly $20 billion for the second quarter of 2020.
Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:
Health officials caution against all international travel. Returning travellers are legally obligated to self-isolate for 14 days, beginning March 26, in case they develop symptoms and to prevent spreading the virus to others. Some provinces and territories have also implemented additional recommendations or enforcement measures to ensure those returning to the area self-isolate.
Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.
To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out.
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