After a record number of new COVID-19 cases on October 9 in Ontario, the Province immediately implemented additional restrictions on restaurants, bars, and gyms in order to help curb the spread of the virus.
The new restrictions, which forced gyms to close and prohibited bars and restaurants from offering in-person dining came into effect October 10 and will last for at least the next 28 days.
In response, many small-business owners, particularly restaurateurs, are worried their businesses will not survive another month-long shutdown.
However, during a press conference on October 13, Premier Doug Ford; Christine Elliot, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health; and Prabmeet Sarkaria, Associate Minister of Small Business and Red Tape Reduction, announced ways in which the Province intends to provide support for these struggling businesses over the next four weeks.
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“Families and entrepreneurs across Ontario have poured their hearts into local restaurants and diners. They’ve been there for us, from donating to charities to sponsoring little league sports,” Ford said in a news release.
“To support them during these tough times, our government is making millions available to provide relief for fixed costs. I’m also calling on everyone in Ontario to rally around our small businesses by ordering takeout or delivery. Together, we can make a huge difference,” he continued.
The Province announced it would be providing businesses impacted by the latest shutdown with $300 million to help offset fixed costs, including property taxes, hydro and natural gas bills.
Additionally, the Province announced it would permanently allow licensed restaurants and bars to include alcohol with food as part of a takeout or delivery order before the existing regulation expires.
“Small businesses account for 98 per cent of all businesses across the province and employ close to 2.4 million hardworking Ontarians. That’s why their recovery, including those in the foodservice sector, is so critical to Ontario’s recovery,” Sarkaria said in the same release.
“During the good times, our restaurants have given us a place to gather as family and friends—to build memories. We must continue to show them what they mean to our communities. All Ontarians can support their local businesses by celebrating #TakeoutDay—today, tomorrow, and any day of the week,” he continued.
Further, Ford is urging delivery services, such as Door Dash and Uber Eats reduce delivery fees for the restaurants they service.
However, MPP Mike Schreiner was critical of the Province’s response thus far.
“If we want independent restaurants to survive, then we need to do more than ask Uber Eats for a favour,” he said in a separate news release.
“The Premier has the power to bring down food delivery app fees, just like many other jurisdictions have done to help out struggling restaurants—he can put an end to price gouging right now by capping commission fees at 15 per cent, which will give small restaurants a better chance to survive the 28-day indoor dining closure,” he continued.
Moreover, Schreiner noted that MPP Amanda Simard called on the Province to implement a cap on commission fees five months ago, but they still have yet to do so.