Restaurants concerned about reduced hours, restrictions under yellow tier

The Region of Waterloo will move into the province's yellow "protect" tier under the province's new COVID-19 framework, meaning reduced hours and further restrictions for bars and restaurants.

The new restrictions will come into effect at midnight on Saturday.

Local business owners in Uptown Waterloo said they understand the measures are meant to help stop the spread of COVID-19, but are worried the changes may hurt their businesses.

Under the yellow category, restaurants and bars need to limit their hours, closing at midnight. Tables will sit a maximum of six people, and music will need to be quiet enough that people can talk at a normal volume.

Liquor consumption will only be allowed between 9 a.m. and 11 p.m.

Rami Said, owner of Revive, said most customers are students who don't come out until 9 or 10 p.m.

"The big issue that we're starting to have is we have about an hour to make the entirety of our sales to pay off rent, pay our staff, any other overhead and just kind of stay afloat," he said. "The 11 o'clock curfew, while to most people in the community doesn't sound that bad, you know if you're somebody who goes for breakfast or to a cafe, it doesn't really affect you. But in the heart of our core, where we are tending to be a late-night space, it's the difference of 70 per cent of our sales that we have had personally on our business."

Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph is also listed in the yellow category.

Taj Marshall, the owner of Rise and Shine Brunch, said it's been a tough year for his downtown Guelph business.

"We were closed for four months and it was really difficult," he said.

The new restrictions will be another hit for the restaurant,

"It's really bad for business," Marshall said.

Revive and other Uptown Waterloo businesses sent a letter to Waterloo Region officials outlining how they would prefer to be in the green "prevent" tier, saying it could help businesses stay afloat and survive the winter.

"We don't know how long we can keep the business going and functioning and paying bills, keeping the heat on, the lights on, without knowing if we're going to get back to some sort of extended hours," said Dive Bar owner Josh Koehler.