'It's a pretty stressful time': Saskatoon restaurant owner says layoffs likely with new restrictions
SASKATOON -- New provincial restrictions went into effect Friday in Saskatchewan and a local restaurant owner says they’re “a pretty big blow to us into the restaurant industry in general.”
Dale MacKay owns four restaurants in the province, which are now limited to four people per table, while having three metres of space between tables if no impermeable barriers are in place.
“Four people to table is one thing, but the nine feet apart is a real, you know, basically about 25 per cent your capacity, depending on your room size as well and how your room is even shaped,” said MacKay.
“When you get knocked down to 25 per cent, the goal can't even be to break even and keep employees going anymore, because you're going to have to cut your staff in half and then on top of it, you're guaranteed to lose money as subsidies kind of slightly go down. So it's a pretty stressful time.”
MacKay believes it would be more beneficial for the hospitality industry and restaurants if the government were to invoke a full shutdown, to allow employees to seek employment insurance or access programs.
“We don't want to, but I think we're probably going to have to lay people off,” he said. “We can't keep them employed. To be able to do 10 or 15 guests a night is not going to pay the bills.”
MacKenzie Firus owns PEAK Climb + HIIT Studio. She has had to reduce class sizes to comply with the guidelines handed down earlier this month, requiring a maximum of eight participants or fewer with three metres of space between them.
“I think the newest restriction was the biggest hurdle, just because now we don’t have the potential to be profitable,” she said.
“And there’s no potential growth, and I’m guessing until there’s a vaccine or a way, they’re not going to increase our numbers.”
Firus says her business is losing money and she is keeping it alive with funds from another job.
“I'm just using personal money for my business right now, which isn't really the dream, but I guess is what I have to do right now.”
Amanda Murray runs her hip hop/street dance company def SOL Productions out of Saskatoon Salsa’s dance space, which is enough to fit “about a quarter of what we would normally operate at” after the new restrictions which require groups of eight or fewer, with three metres of spacing.
“We we’re already kind of at half capacity before the new measures were put in place, so short-term we’ll scrape by and make it happen,” she said.
“But it's just not something that's financially viable, to be operating at a quarter of our capacity and then essentially doubling our expenses, because we have to be able to offer more classes with fewer people.”
Murray says at least half of her clients are 19 or older and they won’t be able to participate with the new restrictions that say only those 18 or younger can continue to train in groups.
“I honestly think it's a little bit ridiculous,” she said. “What we're thinking in the dance world is [it’s] maybe a little bit of an oversight, that they didn't realize that there were a lot of 19-plus dancers that would be affected by it.”