'Jim, could you do something?': Ottawa bars, restaurants plead for help as data shows establishments linked to few outbreaks

Ottawa's bar and restaurant owners say new provincial data showing establishments only account for two per cent of all COVID-19 outbreaks in Ottawa is proof they can operate safely during the COVID-19 pandemic.

And one prominent Ottawa chef is calling on Mayor Jim Watson to step up to help bars and restaurants that continue to face restrictions on indoor dining due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

New data from the Science Advisory and Modelling Consensus Tables shows there have been three outbreaks linked to bars and restaurants in Ottawa since August 1.

There has been 63 outbreaks at long-term care homes and retirement homes and 74 outbreaks at Ottawa's schools and daycares.

"I think I'm going to do seven orders tonight. It's pretty sad right now, I know it's going to get better but hearing that today only two per cent is restaurants is pretty disappointing," said Chef Michael Blackie, co-founder of NeXT in Stittsville.

"I'm not impressed."

Blackie says it is a "slap in the face" that data shows indoor dining was prohibited at bars and restaurants in Ottawa since Oct. 10 because of three outbreaks in Ottawa over three months.

"I got to be honest, Jim could you do something please, Mr. Watson could you? Because I'm going to be painfully obvious about it, but I haven't seen much of Jim during this whole process," said Blackie, appealling for Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson to ask the province to change the modified Stage 2 restrictions. 

"Jim, if you're going to do anything, now is the time to do it.  We really need your help …. Now is the time to step the plate. We're suffering greatly."

Council voted last month to ask Premier Doug Ford and the Ontario Government for the data that resulted in the decision to close indoor dining at bars and restaurants, and the full shutdown of gyms and fitness centres on Oct. 10.

Other Ottawa restaurant owners admit they're confused by the data.

"Definitely with our numbers being at only two per cent of the outbreaks, it certainly didn't in my opinion warrant shutting down businesses that are probably actually contributing to helping slow the spread down," said Scott Ruffo, owner of Brass Monkey.

In the ByWard Market, Steve Ryan of the Senate Tavern said bars and restaurants are committed to keeping people safe.

"It's frustrating when you see that it's only two per cent of the outbreaks coming from restaurants and you have daycare and schools at 39 per cent," said Ruffo.

"You have these restaurants and bars (spend) all this money, tens of thousands of dollars on PPE, and plexiglass and virtual menus to make sure that people have a safe place to go and then this kind of data comes out, it's definitely frustrating."