Restaurant owners issue a call to action against hospitality restrictions

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With 100 percent of customers eating and drinking in Windsor’s covered bars and restaurants vaccinated by provincial mandate, a group of local business owners are wondering: Do night closings and a dance ban still make sense?


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“Now that we no longer have the highest rate of infection in Ontario, in addition to allowing vaccinated clients to come inside, the question remains why we cannot operate after midnight and we cannot allow dancing in our establishments,” said Matt. Komsa, partner and co-owner of WKND Hospitality.

Komsa and other business owners are calling on Windsor-Essex County Health Unit “#CanceltheCurfew” to undo the restrictions of a letter of instruction dated September 7, 2021 that requires restaurants, bars and adult entertainment to close. before midnight and ban indoor dancing.

In light of Ontario’s two-dose vaccine mandate for customers who eat and drink indoors, and Windsor’s own slowly declining COVID-19 rates, Komsa said business owners are now questioning the need for those specific restrictions.


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“This is not intended to be a vaccine passport debate. We are not getting into the ‘void or not void’ issue, ”Komsa said. “We wonder when we can get back to normal.”

Komsa and WKND Hospitality, which owns The Bull and Barrel and The Goat Tap and Eateries, as well as Wild Child Nightlife, started an online petition, which had more than 1,100 signatures as of Tuesday as of press time.

Matt Komsa, owner of The GOAT Tap and Eatery in LaSalle is shown at the establishment on Wednesday, September 1, 2021.
Matt Komsa, owner of The GOAT Tap and Eatery in LaSalle is shown at the establishment on Wednesday, September 1, 2021. Photo by Dan Janisse /Windsor Star

These restrictions account for a large part of the loss of income, Renaldo Agostino said. Agostino is the president of Turbo Espresso Bar, a café and bar, and of the events company Element Entertainment. With a midnight curfew, many people don’t bother getting dressed and going out so it comes down to just a few hours.

“Those two hours (from midnight to 2 am) are 90 percent of income in the bar industry,” Agostino said.


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“It’s not just two hours, and that’s why it’s so important to have a seat at the table.”

Agostino said his businesses have followed public health restrictions, but he feels the restrictions in bars and restaurants are “an easy fruit” compared to large retail chains.

“I think our industry has been guilty, in some way and by some people, of breaking the restrictions,” said Agostino. “Instead of holding a few accountable for their actions, the industry at large suffers … This general rule hurts everyone.”

“I want … people who break the rules to suffer for breaking the rules. I want to be part of the discussion and right now we are not. “

Renaldo Agostino, owner of Turbo Espresso in downtown Windsor is shown on Tuesday, Aug. 17, 2021.
Renaldo Agostino, owner of Turbo Espresso in downtown Windsor is shown on Tuesday, Aug. 17, 2021. Photo by Dan Janisse /Windsor Star

In its Sept. 7 letter ordering the restrictions, the health unit cited the increase in the number of cases and the need to further limit the spread of COVID-19.


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“While WECHU recognizes and thanks the Windsor-Essex community for their adherence to public health measures during the pandemic and for the continued increase in vaccination rates, we still have a long way to go to reach 90 percent. One hundred of our fully vaccinated population needed to limit or reduce the impact of a fourth wave, ”officials wrote.

Health officials did not respond to questions before Tuesday’s deadline.

Currently, 67 percent of residents of Windsor and Essex counties are fully vaccinated. In a Sept. 24 update, health unit data still found the region to have the second highest rate of COVID-19 test positivity in the province, though cases are beginning to trend downward. .

But now that all the customers inside are vaccinated, Agostino said he and other business owners are wondering, “What (are they) doing exactly?”

“U.SI clearly don’t want to do anything that puts the community at risk. We don’t want to sound like angry restaurant and bar owners, ”said Agostino.

“We want to be safe, we want to do the right thing. What is the gameplay, what is the diagnosis? We are as if patients were not told what is happening to us ”.

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