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Restaurants and bars again expecting hit from capacity limits spurred by surging COVID-19 case numbers


“We kind of saw a light at the end of the tunnel with everyone getting vaccinated and everything, so having to revert back into restrictions is unfortunate.”

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Restaurants are ready to roll with the punches when it comes to new COVID-19 measures announced by Ottawa Public Health, two managers of Ottawa establishments say.

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“We’re going to make our choices based on what the government says, and all we can do is try to meet those requirements,” says Craig Stevenson, manager of The Shore Club on Colonel By Drive.

Ottawa Medical Officer of Health Dr. Vera Etches announced Friday that restaurants and bars would have capacity limits of 50 per cent starting Monday.

In addition, there can be no more than six people at a table, customers must remain seated while eating or drinking and they have to be able to remain two metres apart or be separated by a Plexiglass barrier.

These regulations for restaurants are coming into effect because of the drastic rise in Omicron-variant COVID-19 cases in Ontario. The most recent seven-day average of new cases was 1,914.

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“These numbers should cause alarm, should raise awareness, and should cause people to rethink why they haven’t taken advantage of the safe and effective vaccine,” said Dr. Kieran Moore, Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health.

Roger McKee, general manager of Zak’s Diner in the ByWard Market, says his restaurant was ready to meet the new guidelines, but the Omicron surge would still hurt business.

“It’s not going to affect us so much at lunch or dinner on a Tuesday, but, on Saturday and Sunday, we’re full all day,” McKee said.

McKee said he felt a bit disheartened by the situation.

“We kind of saw a light at the end of the tunnel with everyone getting vaccinated and everything, so having to revert back into restrictions is unfortunate.”

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The holiday season is a busy, and profitable, time of year for restaurants. McKee says having capacity restrictions now will have more impact than they did in the summer.

“It wasn’t too bad (then) because we had the full-capacity patio, and, if people had to wait for a table, they could wait outside in the nice weather. But now I don’t foresee people wanting to wait outside for a table,” McKee said.

Although she acknowledged it would be tiresome to spend a second holiday season mostly stuck at home, Etches said these regulations would help keep Ottawa residents safe.

“The COVID-19 pandemic continues to evolve and we once again need to work together as a community to reduce the transmission of COVID-19,” Etches said.

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