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Reopened Montreal bars struggling to stay afloat amid pandemic

Coronavirus: Reopened bars struggle to stay afloat amid pandemic
WATCH: Reopened bars struggle to stay afloat amid pandemic

While bars and restaurants closed to at the outset of the coronavirus pandemic have since been allowed to reopen, staff say they are still waiting for customers to come back.

Bob Harmidy has been working at Le Manoir restaurant and bar for more than 45 years.

In all of his time there, he says he’s never quite experienced a year like this one.

“I think less and less people are coming out and having a beer in the bars with the big screens,” he said. “People at home have their own 50 inch TV now and their own $2 beers at home.”

READ MORE: Quebec bans bars from selling alcohol after midnight to limit coronavirus outbreaks

The resto-bar is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. It’s used to big line ups, a diverse clientele and a staff of about a 100.

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But owner, Peter Sergakis says since reopening, staff has been reduced by 75 per cent because clients are simply not coming in.

“Inside, the place looks like a cemetery,” said Sergakis.

READ MORE: Coronavirus: Quebec sees loss of 450,000 jobs in 4-month period compared to last year

Earlier this week, Quebec’s statistics institute, released data that showed from March to June of this year, the province lost about 450,000 jobs.

Of them, 365,000 were in the service industry, and more specifically, 100,000 jobs were lost in the restaurant and accommodation sector.

Those statistics are all too familiar for Stations des Sports, located downtown Montreal.

READ MORE: Coronavirus: Montreal bars ensuring safety as sports resume this summer

Manager, Kim Shour, says they have about 10 per cent of their staff back on the job.

She says there are multiple reasons for the shortage, but the main one is the lack of clients.

In terms of revenue, the bar is bringing in about 15 to 20 per cent of what they did last year.

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“Right now we have hockey, basketball is starting the playoffs, championship league soccer — normally for all these games, our place is packed — lines up to get in, reservations,” said Shour. “Right now, we’re having maybe a dozen or two dozen people coming in to watch.”

In July, public health called on bar employees and those who had been to a bar since July 1, to get tested for COVID-19, after multiple establishments had reported outbreaks.

READ MORE: Montreal public health urges all bar patrons and employees to get tested for COVID-19

The most recent data from July 20 shows that 65 Montrealers have been confirmed to have been infected in a bar.

Sergakis says people are simply hesitant to visit restaurants and bars — and it shows.

“The habits changed,” he said. “People started enjoying themselves staying home, and if there’s a small risk of them going out, they don’t wanna take it.”

Montreal restaurants struggling to survive in COVID-19 era
Montreal restaurants struggling to survive in COVID-19 era