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Omicron, new COVID restrictions mean tough times ahead for Montreal nightlife venues

Click to play video: 'Concert Hall owners seeing red as déjà vu hits with more restrictions around the corner' Concert Hall owners seeing red as déjà vu hits with more restrictions around the corner
Watch: Just over one month after Montreal nightlife venues celebrated the easing of restrictions, After the Legault government tightened things up again in response to rising COVID-19 instances, many in the industry are feeling depressed once more. Dan Spector reports. – Dec 17, 2021

Just over a month after Montreal nightlife venues celebrated the easing of restrictions, many in the domain are feeling dejected after the Legault government tightened things up again because of rising COVID-19 cases.

“It feels a lot like March of 2020,” said Sergio Da Silva, co-owner of Turbo Haus, a bar and concert venue on Saint-Denis Boulevard. “You can see in real-time that you’re losing thousands of dollars right away.”

With COVID cases climbing, the Legault government has once again imposed a 50-per-cent capacity restriction on restaurants, bars, clubs and more. Dancing is no longer allowed, and neither is karaoke.

READ MORE: Montreal restaurants say reservations for big gatherings getting cancelled en masse

Da Silva says he saw the new restrictions coming, but was still sad and profoundly disappointed.

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“Deep down, everybody knew that this was still going to go on for a little bit longer,” he said.

Click to play video: 'Quebec announces new capacity limits amid sharp rise in COVID-19 cases' Quebec announces new capacity limits amid sharp rise in COVID-19 cases
Quebec announces new capacity limits amid sharp rise in COVID-19 cases – Dec 16, 2021

At Le Date Karaoke Bar, owner Danny Jobin is devastated.

“I’m crying, really sad. I’m sad for all the customers. They were having so much fun,” he said.

At the beginning of November, Jobin was over the moon as Quebec finally announced karaoke was allowed again.

“We were full every night. Now, people are cancelling reservations. There are no more parties for businesses. It’s hurting a lot,” Jobin said.

READ MORE: Quebec sets new daily record with 3,768 COVID cases, active total skyrockets

Da Silva is also getting calls for cancellations at Turbo Haus. He’s not planning to book anything new for now, but there are some sold out shows on the schedule.

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“I mean, we’ll have to come up with some sort of lottery system, I guess. Whoever gets picked out of the hat gets to keep their ticket, the other people are refunded. That’s one way to go about doing it,” he said.

Click to play video: 'COVID-19: Ontario reintroducing capacity limits for large indoor venues amid Omicron spread' COVID-19: Ontario reintroducing capacity limits for large indoor venues amid Omicron spread
COVID-19: Ontario reintroducing capacity limits for large indoor venues amid Omicron spread – Dec 15, 2021

Both businesses are getting ready to pivot once again. At Turbo Haus, Da Silva started selling T-shirts when he couldn’t have customers anymore.

After Thursday’s news, orders started pouring in.

“For me, the biggest thing is our staff who now don’t know what the next few weeks are going to look like,” he said.

Read more: Canada’s daily COVID cases 45% higher than a week ago as Omicron surges

Jobin will try to attract singing enthusiasts even though karaoke isn’t allowed.

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“A drag queen will sing on the stage and people will sing at their seats without microphones. We’re going to try that again,” he said.

Since the new restrictions only start Monday, he’s expecting a raucous weekend.

“We’re packed already today, tomorrow and Sunday. People want to sing the last song,” Jobin said.

Referring to financial support programs offered during previous lockdowns, both business owners hope they can once again rely on government help to keep their establishments alive.

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