Quebec business community bracing for extended coronavirus lockdown and curfew

Click to play video: 'Coronavirus: Quebec Retailers, restaurants worried over extended lockdown' Coronavirus: Quebec Retailers, restaurants worried over extended lockdown
WATCH: Montreal's business community is bracing for a tough few weeks, with the lockdown extended for four weeks. From restaurants to retail, business owners worry about their futures. As Global’s Amanda Jelowicki reports, some worry concessions such as allowing food delivery and curbside pickup, may not be enough – Jan 7, 2021

Montreal’s  business community is bracing for a difficult winter, as the Quebec government extended its lockdown and is imposing a month-long curfew until Feb. 8.

The restaurant industry, which has seen establishments closed since the fall, is especially worried about its survival, with in-person dining banned for another month.

“Despite us having to close, the numbers have not been going down so it seems like the sacrifice that restaurants have made have been in vain,” said Julie Couture, a spokesperson for Quebec’s restaurant association.

“There has been already three times that restaurateurs have filled their fridges and have had to throw out enormous quantities of food. We’re losing employees, and we are preoccupied at how many will be left.”

Read more: Curfew ‘best of the worst options’ as COVID-19 maintains hold on Canada: experts

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Reagan Steinberg owns two restaurants, Arthur’s Nosh Bar and fried chicken spot Bucky Roosters in Saint-Henri, which she opened last year during the COVID-19 pandemic.

She’s had to let go two-thirds of her staff at Arthur’s.

Click to play video: 'How will Quebec’s coronavirus curfew impact you?' How will Quebec’s coronavirus curfew impact you?
How will Quebec’s coronavirus curfew impact you? – Jan 7, 2021

While she’s not surprised Quebec extended its lockdown, she is disappointed.

“I don’t necessarily agree with all the restrictions they put in place or how they have dealt with our line of business,” Steinberg said.

She worries about the upcoming 8 p.m. curfew. She says at least half of her patrons call in their orders and pick them up themselves, both for warmer food and cheaper service.

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When the curfew comes into effect, only food delivery companies will be allowed to deliver takeout orders. And in some cases, they charge up to 35 per cent in fees.

“We will be 100 per cent dependent on Uber or Doordash or these takeout companies, which obviously take a large percentage of sales. So that will definitely affect our bottom line,” she said.

Montreal’s retail community is also concerned about its future. January in general is not an easy month for retailers. Something the industry is thankful for, though, is the government allowing curbside pickup, saying it will mitigate lost revenue somewhat.

“It’s not going to be enough to make up the difference, but that is a great win for us because we have been pushing pretty hard for curbside since late November,” said Marc Fortin, spokesperson for the Retail Council of Canada.

“We have it. It’s also going to help the population.”

While TV and movie productions are allowed to continue, movie theatres will remain closed.

Read more: Here’s how Quebec’s latest lockdown rules and nightly curfew will work

Cinema owner Vincent Guzzo supports production continuing, but he says it’s time movie theatres should be allowed to open. He says owners invested in theatres, making them safe to watch a movie.

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“We know the data says we have been closed for three months now and cases have gone up six-fold so clearly we are not the cause,” Guzzo said. “This perception the government has created to make people believe that going to the movies is dangerous, that is bad.”

He says that getting people back into movie theatres won’t be easy.

“The problem with that is that even if you reopen me, people have been told for nine months that it is dangerous to go to movie theatres, when it fact it isn’t,” he said.

“Movie theatres have better ventilation, better HVAC than most hospitals and schools.”

Quebec’s new lockdown takes effect Saturday, and continues until Feb. 8.

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