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Coronavirus: Phase 3 restrictions see Saskatchewan restaurants, bars staying closed

Despite being allowed to open June 8, many Regina restaurants say they will remain closed due to the restrictions in place.
Despite being allowed to open June 8, many Regina restaurants say they will remain closed due to the restrictions in place. Getty Images

As of June 8, Phase 3 of Saskatchewan’s reopen plan begins, allowing restaurants and licensed establishments to resume operations with specific coronavirus safety measures in place.

However, restaurant and bar owners say provincial public health restrictions — including operating at a 50 per cent capacity, maintaining social distancing and closing dance floors — are forcing many in the business sector to keep their doors closed, for at least a little while longer.

READ MORE: Phase 3 of Saskatchewan’s reopening plan challenging for some fitness, dance studios

“We have to start making money, we can’t have more costs on top,” said Douglas Finlay, Eldorado Country Rock Bar owner.

“It would be better to be closed and have zero than be adding to the costs to be open.”

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Restrictions within the facilities are not the only roadblocks stopping owners. Factors such as the physical location of the businesses, and downtown locations’ reliance on workers from other companies as customers, are also part of the problem.

READ MORE: Saskatchewan gyms prepare to reopen as province announces set date for Phase 3

Amanda Carter, a part-owner of both Bar Willow Eatery and Beer Bros. Gastropub, said that their downtown location would not survive opening on June 8.

“We have noticed it’s not really busy downtown. A lot of people are still working from home so that effects the traffic that’s downtown,” Carter said.

“For the downtown restaurants, we do rely on a really solid lunch and then an after-work crowd. When people aren’t working downtown you don’t get that.”

How you can support local restaurants during the COVID-19 pandemic
How you can support local restaurants during the COVID-19 pandemic

As a result, restaurant owners are playing a financial balancing game when it comes to the right time to start up again.

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“Every day is different, we could have a second wave, we could be shut down like what happened in Calgary,” said Steve Kosabek, 20 Ten Eatery owner.

“I don’t want to be replenishing my whole stock of food and liquor and everything like that, and then have us shut down the day of.”

Kosabek said July 2 will be a better start date for his establishment.

READ MORE: Saskatchewan restaurants brace for hardship once dine-in service resumes

Bars and Restaurants that are choosing to stay closed hope the customers will come back once they do reopen.

Allison Finlay, co-owner of Eldorado Country Rock Bar said the response from the community has been overwhelming so far.

“It [has] at times put tears in my eyes, because you can just feel the love and support of everyone who is behind us,” Finlay said.