Restaurants brace for families wanting Thanksgiving dinner amid COVID circuit breaker

Click to play video: 'N.B. families looking at dining out or smaller Thanksgiving celebrations amid COVID-19 restrictions'
N.B. families looking at dining out or smaller Thanksgiving celebrations amid COVID-19 restrictions
Thanksgiving weekend will be different for New Brunswickers again this year. Families will have to restrict celebrations to a single household, as COVID-19 cases are on the rise. But that’s already led to a surge in interest in dining out for Thanksgiving, or celebrating on a smaller scale. Nathalie Sturgeon reports – Oct 6, 2021

Families in New Brunswick are once again facing a Thanksgiving holiday under the shadow of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Cases in the province have steadily increased since July 1.

This past weekend, the province shattered all previous records for the number of cases in a single day as well as deaths and sparked a response from Public Health and the government ahead of the Thanksgiving long weekend.

Three zones were placed in a circuit breaker — meaning a lockdown — and the holiday’s traditional dinner is restricted to single-household bubbles — or only the people who live in the home with you.

On Wednesday, the government extended that to caregivers and any family member who lives alone and needs support.

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But restaurants are bracing for the influx of families who can dine together with proof of vaccination.

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The Cabin restaurant is a small family-based business with nine tables. It has a book of regulars and typically sees the same customers week after week.

However, employee Nesha Bertin says things have picked up there too.

“Today, just alone, we’ve had about half a dozen calls asking for reservations and if we’re going to be providing a roast turkey meal for the weekend,” she told Global News.

They’ll be open on Monday and are expecting a busy day but will do take-orders as they come in.

Meanwhile, Moncton meat shop owner Eric Baxter says people are definitely buying smaller turkeys.

“Definitely people are going toward the smaller turkeys than the larger ones and even the ones that are buying larger ones … They are getting them cut in half,” he said.

It’s no doubt a reflection of the single-household bubble rule limiting visitors.

Anyone within the circuit breaker regions cannot have gatherings at private residences, indoors or out.

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“All New Brunswickers – including those living in areas not impacted by the circuit breaker — must not have gatherings anywhere other than a place at which the law requires proof of vaccination with anyone they do not currently live with during the Thanksgiving long weekend,” the department said in a release.

The rule brings a welcome boost to business for restaurants according to vice president Luc Erjavec with Restaurants Canada for Atlantic Canada.

“These restrictions do not apply to restaurants — you and your family, friends and extended family or whoever are more than welcome to come to our restaurants and dine. We have extensive measures in place to keep them safe and our staff safe,” he said.

The circuit breakers are in Zone 1, Zone 3 and all of Zone 4.

“We have seen a high number of cases sparked from private gatherings and these are resulting in transmission of the virus across the province, particularly amongst the unvaccinated,” said chief medical officer of health Dr. Jennifer Russell.

“I understand this is difficult but, in an effort to reduce the spread, New Brunswickers must not have gatherings at their homes during Thanksgiving weekend.”

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