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Okanagan restaurants battered by COVID-19: ‘These people are losing their livelihoods’

Click to play video 'Restaurants Canada survey predicts dire Covid-19 consequences for country’s foodservice industry' Restaurants Canada survey predicts dire Covid-19 consequences for country’s foodservice industry
WATCH: A new restaurant survey has found that COVID-19 has cost the B.C. foodservice sector 121,500 jobs since the beginning of March. Restaurants Canada says that many of the jobs that have been lost might not return and the outlook for the future is worse – Apr 3, 2020

On any given day in the last week, business at The Table Café at Codfathers Market in Kelowna has been down between 40 and 70 per cent.

The grim numbers at the small Okanagan business are due to the worldwide impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, as restaurants are shuttered by order and forced to serve customers by take-out and delivery or close.

Owner Ross Derrick has been forced to let five employees go and is preparing food and delivering to customers himself to continue making a living.

READ MORE: Okanagan families urged to only send one person shopping during COVID-19 pandemic

“These people are losing their livelihoods and it’s more important than ever to support local,” customer Jessica Spellicy said as she took delivery of her fish and chips.

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Not all restaurants have been able to transition successfully to the new reality of business during the pandemic.

“It’s created chaos in the foodservice and hospitality industries,” said Restaurants Canada vice president Mark von Schellwitz.

READ MORE: Coronavirus: IMF says world recession will be ‘way worse’ than 2008 crisis

A survey by Restaurants Canada has found COVID-19 has cost the B.C. foodservice sector 121,500 jobs since the beginning of March. and more than 800,000 across Canada.

  • Four out of five restaurants have laid off employees since March 1.
  • Seven out of 10 foodservice operators will further cut back on staff hours or lay off more employees if conditions do not improve.
  • Nearly one out of 10 restaurants have already closed permanently and another 18 per cent will permanently close within a month if current conditions continue.

Canada’s $93-billion foodservice industry represents 4 per cent of the country’s GDP, according to Restaurants Canada.

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“Unless the current conditions change we are not going to be able to survive the next 30 days,” von Schellwitz said.

READ MORE: Coronavirus: Canadian banks offer reduced credit card interest rates

The industry group said it is working with all levels of government to help foodservice businesses find rent relief, access working capital until the rules are lifted and access the 75 per cent wage subsidy being arranged by the federal government to help avoid layoffs.

Customers aware of the current burden hope others do their part, if they can, to order take-out meals to ensure their favourite establishments are able to reopen when the pandemic is over.

“Do whatever you can so that these people can continue to serve us when it’s all over,” Spellicy said.

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