'I don't know how long we can do this': Restaurant owner fears return to lockdown
LONDON, ONT. -- The words of the local medical officer of health have created anxiety for London-area service business owners and their employees.
As CTV News reported Thursday evening, the Middlesex-London Health Unit's Dr. Chris Mackie has hinted a return to red restrictions or even a lockdown is possible over the next couple of weeks if COVID-19 cases continue to rise.
For Stephanie Jasin, a server at Chuck’s Roadhouse in London’s west end, even the possibility of elevated restrictions is unsettling.
“I make a living. This is how I pay my bills every day. And it’s frustrating not knowing one day to the next, if I have to apply to EI and if I’m going to make my rent next month.”
Jasin has been in and out of work at Chuck’s Roadhouse several times since the pandemic began.
Until learning of Mackie’s words, she’d thought the end of COVID-19 layoffs had finally arrived.
So did her boss, Tom Sada. He owns all five London Chuck’s Roadhouse locations
“I don’t know how long we can do this”, an exasperated Sada explained to CTV News.
Like his staff, his spirits had been up as the move to orange-restrict level restrictions allowed more people to eat inside and out.
“Last week they allowed us to have 100 people in dining and the patio, and from that, we probably break even, maybe, and pay some of the debt from last year. But to go in lockdown again and just depend on the patio, we might not make it.”
And Sada says when you combine the uncertainly of patio weather with the variability of COVID-19 restrictions, ordering becomes difficult.
“We don’t know what to do anymore, we can’t plan ahead. We just invested over $100,000 for five locations. And now we're going to go back after investing this money and inventory is stuck in the freezers or coolers, what am I gonna do with it?”
And it’s not just the food that could be lost for operators, Sada says restaurant staff understandably want security.
“They're frustrated too, and I’ll be honest with you, some of them are leaving, you know, they’ve had enough of this.”
Sada says getting restaurant workers higher on the priority list for vaccines might help, along with owners banding together to question restrictions.
But all would come too late for Jasin. She’s halfway through retraining for a new career.
“I’ve always thought of it before COVID, but I feel COVID has forced me to reevaluate my life.”