Restaurant and pub owners will be forced to confront the cold reality of losing customers wary of indoor dining as patio season draws to a close.

Donaleigh's Irish Public House co-owner Steve Ricalis says losing the outdoor dining area will mean losing much-needed business.

Ricalis says he's in a better situation than most because of government subsidies, but times are still challenging.

"We're cutting as much costs as we can. I'm not even getting paid right now. My partner's not getting paid right now. We're just worried about our staff," Ricalis says.

Linda's Eating Place and Coffee Shop owner, Annette Lymbertos, says opening an outdoor patio was a lifesaver after months of being closed.

"We weren't looking at making a profit. We were looking at lessening the debt on the other side. The patio brought us back into that profit range."

Now that the patio season has been met with colder temperatures, Lymbertos has moved things indoors, hoping patrons will gradually follow.

She says she has come to terms she could lose her business. "It's painful. It hurts. I've shed more than a few tears," Lymbertos says she isn't making a profit like before the pandemic but believes if the business can continue the way it is, she could save it for at least two more years.

On Tuesday, the Ford government hit the pause button on future reopenings across the province after a spike in COVID cases.

Businesses like McReilley's Pub has been operating at reduced capacity. Pub server Victoria Black says that isn't the concern, saying they are more worried about a second wave of COVID-19.

"Being able to open and work at half-capacity is one thing, but having to shut down again for a couple of months, that will impact business for sure."