LONDON, ONT. -- A Sarnia restaurant owner is calling out the provincial government over the COVID-19 response framework.

“The ten person allowed in a restaurant right now is the equivalent of 10 per cent capacity.”

Jason Winter, who owns the Bad Dog restaurant and bar in Sarnia and Corunna, Ontario wants the rules changed so they’re based on size and occupancy of the establishment, rather than an across-the-board numerical value.

“No-one’s asking for the restrictions to be taken away. No-one’s asking for masks to be taken away, for the spacing to be taken away. We want the consistency of all the other businesses in that framework, which is based on your occupancy or your capacity.”

The frustrations come after Lambton County emerged from the provincial lockdown into the orange restrict code, allowing 50 people in a restaurant, and was moved just a week later into the red control code, allowing for just ten customers at a time.

The Canadian Federation of Independent Business estimates that the pandemic will result in the permanent closure of 180,000 small businesses. President and CEO Dan Kelly says Ontario has become too comfortable with shut-downs, and he thinks there has to be a better way to help small businesses survive.

“The limited data that we have seen shows that it’s not business activity that’s causing the problem. It’s not shopping, or even indoor restaurant dining, or going to a hair and nail salon. It’s activity that’s happening in people’s homes. And as a result of that business owners are I think rightly asking some tough questions.”

In the meantime, Winter has written to the provincial government asking for the release of data to justify shutting down restaurants or severely limiting their capacity.