B.C.'s current COVID-19 restrictions on social gatherings and liquor service expire on Jan. 8, and there’s been no indication on whether they’ll be extended. But management at The Living Room restaurant in downtown Vancouver believes the writing is on the wall. 

“I’m not super hopeful that the provincial health office is suddenly going to decide that restaurants are a priority for them. They are obviously looking at different things right now, so it doesn’t make sense to try to stay open from a financial standpoint,” said general manager Don Falconer.

While the Hotel Belmont, where the restaurant is located, will remain open, The Living Room restaurant has closed temporarily, and laid off 40 staff.    

“Super sad, yeah,” said Falconer. “We have worked really hard to keep the place open over the last 8-9 months since we have been in this climate. And our staff has been right there beside us, they have been working so hard, still showed up with a smile on their face, and that’s the toughest part I think.”

Falconer believes The Living Room won’t be the only one.  

“I think you’re going to see a lot more places joining us in the temporary closures and unfortunately I think you’re going to see a lot of places that aren’t as lucky as us to be able to do it temporarily, that are going to be permanently closed as well,” he said. 

The Living Room plans to re-open when conditions improve, which likely won’t happen while current COVID-19 restrictions are in place.  

“Something does need to change, either the restrictions around going out with only members of your immediately household or bubble, or the 10 p.m. liquor sales cut off,” Falconer said. 

Until then, the popular downtown eatery will be shuttered, but Falconer hopes it won’t be for too long, adding “we’re not gone, we are just taking a pause right now.”