With the backdrop of a third wave surge in COVID-19 transmissions, on March 29 provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced a ban on indoor dining, indoor fitness services and indoor worship until April 19.
The sweeping restrictions, dubbed a “circuit breaker” put a damper on anyone who was hoping B.C. would soon see an easing to gathering rules, especially those who had made plans through the Easter holidays.
The announcement coming days ahead of Easter break, has left businesses, especially in the restaurant sector reeling.
“I understand the reason restrictions are put in place,” said Jeremy Roth, co-owner of The Alpenhorn and Don Cherry’s/Noir.
“It still doesn’t make sense to me why restaurants are targeted on such a last minute decisions, with no notice. It created the most stressful day of contacting my staff members, changing the schedules in each location and taking away people’s hours and livelihood.
“It was not fair, and extremely emotional for all involved.”
The Smithers and District Chamber of Commerce moved quickly to re-publish a list of local menus from restaurants offering take-out service The Interior News had compiled, in the hope of helping the business community.
The Bank of Montreal (BMO) conducted a recent survey of businesses’ economic recovery and found small business to be affected the most by the “yo-yo-ing” of on and off again lock down measures.
“The underlying story is mixed, with the services sectors continuing to struggle amid ongoing restrictions,” wrote BMO’s Benjamin Reitzes in his analysis, which found as people lost their jobs or income, financial concerns became a major point of continuing stress and uncertainty.
“I can’t even handle the stress right now,” Roth said of his two restaurants in Smithers. He wonders how to keep employees in an industry that has seen repeated last minute closures and layoffs.
“I honestly don’t know what to think anymore,” Roth said, echoing the frustration of many restaurant owners in the valley.