Some local restaurants are deciding to close the indoor dining room as COVID-19 cases continue to rise in the Waterloo region and across Ontario.
“We have read the writing on the wall and we have realized how likely we are to see cases in the restaurant,” said Nick Benninger of the Fat Sparrow Group, which operates several restaurants in the Waterloo region.
Benninger wants to protect staff from the contagious variant of Omicron, which is spreading rapidly in the community.
“The last thing we want to do is have to tell our team that they have to isolate themselves during the holidays,” he said. “If things continue to get out of hand, we can stay in this pattern, but we hope to reopen the dining room soon.”
Taco Farm and Jacob’s Grill, both operated by Fat Sparrow Group, became takeout only on Thursday.
Other restaurants, bars, and taphouses are making similar moves.
A social media post from Ethel’s Lounge in Waterloo indicated that the bar is returning to takeout and online sales for the protection of the community and staff.
Waterloo Brewing has also closed its taps to protect staff and the community, but is keeping its beer shop open.
“We’re seeing it more now than any of the other waves,” said James Rilett of Restaurants Canada.
He said it is becoming more common even though restaurants can currently operate at 50 percent capacity.
“They can’t keep losing money anymore,” he said. “They must minimize the amount they are losing and must also take care of the health of their staff and themselves.”
Ian McLean of the Greater KW Chamber of Commerce said the situation requires the federal government to continue with rental assistance and wage subsidies, but also for the province to increase cash flow.
The changing situation is putting more pressure on the restaurant industry, which has struggled throughout the pandemic.
“Giving up eating indoors hurts your bottom line a lot, but being able to sustain the rest of the business along the way means a lot,” Benninger said. “I think a lot of restaurants see it the same way.”