'Our businesses are worth zero now,' says CEO of Quebec Bar Owners Association

Restaurant and bar owners are taking exception to Quebec's decision to close the industry through the holiday season due to novel coronavirus health measures.

"Why us?" asked Quebec Bar Owners' Association CEO Jean-Jacques Beauchamp.

Quebec bars and restaurants were re-shuttered Oct. 1 as the second COVID-19 wave saw cases spike after being allowed to reopen in the summer after being told to closed in March. The October shut down was supposed to be for four weeks.

Now, it will last at least until Jan. 11.

"It's catastrophic for many of us," said Beauchamp. "It's discouraging. Many people won't be able to cope with that. Our employees won't stick around."

Many bars and restaurants have already gone out of business during the COVID-19 restrictions, and others are teetering on the brink.

Those who have survived are asking how much more they can take.

"I can't think of anything else that has been this frustrating," said Pigeon Cafe co-owner Jonathan Dresner.

Dresner said he's willing to put in more safety measures and have smaller crowds, but the government won't allow him to reopen even though it's allowing Christmas gatherings.

"I don't understand why that would be permitted in private households," he said.

Even worse, Dresner is frustrated to see crowds at Walmart and Costco while small businesses suffer.

"They're getting stronger and stronger and stronger while we're just getting pounded down and pounded down," said Dresner.

Dresner is focusing on take-out orders, but for him and other small restaurants, the stress of operating is taking a toll.

"It's hard to stay mentally strong when you keep opening, closing, opening, closing, and always have an unknown of when you'll finally reopen," he said.

Even worse, the industry is missing out on the holiday season.

"It's the best period. That's where many of us make our money," said Beauchamp. "We're totally discouraged. What's the future for us. Our businesses are worth zero now." 

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