The Penticton Chamber is urging the province to consider regional restrictions rather than penalizing the entire province.
The board of the Penticton and Wine Country Chamber of Commerce is concerned with Monday’s announcement of further restrictions due to the uptick of COVID-19 cases, mainly in the Fraser Health region.
“Although we understand that case counts are rising in some areas of the province, Interior Health and Penticton, in particular, are not seeing case counts like they are in Vancouver Coastal and Fraser Health,” said Nicole Clark, past president and chair of the Advocacy Committee.
“This is a real blow to our restaurant industry and their employees. Like everyone, they have had to find a way to operate safely and are doing so.”
“This latest announcement could mean the end for some of our businesses who are struggling to stay afloat. These consequences outweigh the risk given how hard restaurant owners and employees are working to keep everyone safe.”
Restaurants across B.C. and in Penticton were given no notice that the province would be pausing indoor dining as of midnight Monday, March 29 carrying through to April 19.
For Elma Restaurant, a fairly new upscale Turkish restaurant on Lakeshore Drive, the restrictions hit hard.
“These new restrictions are definitely yet another blow to the restaurant industry. It has already been a very challenging year made more difficult in the past four months with the core bubble ban when dining out,” said Elma owner Ayse Barluk.
“For us specifically, today’s (March 29) unexpected regulation means yet another challenging revaluation of our business model and staffing over the next three weeks, maybe even longer.
“Not to mention the fact that we have standing food orders and inventory that will potentially go to waste, as well as staff schedules that ultimately need to be cancelled because the government and health officials have yet again failed to give us ample notice to deal with these issues.”
One thing that has gone right through this pandemic, is the support of the community, said Barluk.
Elma will be offering take-out during limited hours while they come up with a game plan.
The Barley Mill is one of the places that had planned on cooking up an Easter dinner.
“Easter dinner could have been enjoyed in our Barley Mill home, but instead, I believe many people will be inviting guests into their own homes,” said Kori Wyborn, marketing manager for Barley Mill.
One saving grace from the province’s announcement is that patios can remain open.
“Our patio plans to be open this Friday or Saturday after our new roof is complete. We feel lucky that we have one of the biggest patios in town, with some heaters in place.
However, for restaurant staff, the new restrictions offered a devastating blow, as shifts will be cut down or cut out altogether.
La Casa Ouzeria co-owner Lia Portalaki said the new restrictions will be hard on staffing and guests.
“We are not ready to set up patio so it really does hurt. Loss of revenue, waste of inventory and loss of wages for our staff. It feels like we just went backwards. But we are going to get past these three weeks as we got past 2020.
“We are going to make the best of delivery and takeout. And even personally delivery to our customers as we miss them. They are a big part of what makes us La Casa Ouzeria.”
For Nautical Dog Cafe at Skaha marina, they are gearing up to have their patio ready for the weekend.
“Thankfully we already have systems in place and we don’t have to reinvent the wheel as we did a year ago,” said cafe owner Kirsten (Fergy) Ferguson.
She also offers a gentle reminder to everyone.
“Whether you are moved to contest the government’s decisions, protest or be safety compliant, remember that us little guys have rules to follow to remain open and ask you all to be patient with us while we move through these new restrictions,” said Ferguson.
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