Outspoken restaurateur Andrew Oliver says the City of Toronto is “absolutely gutting the hospitality industry” with its decision Tuesday to extend an indoor dining ban by a further 28 days.
“It’s extremely disappointing that – whatever it was, two weeks ago - we were told we’d be opening at 50 per cent capacity. The city asked for another week,” Oliver, chief executive officer of the Oliver & Bonacini restaurant group, told BNN Bloomberg in an interview.
“And now again, the city is stepping on the restaurants’ throats with very little to zero additional aid coming.”
Toronto announced Tuesday that the dining ban, which the province had said the city could lift as soon as Nov. 14, will be extended by four weeks. The ban is aimed at limiting the spread of COVID-19 within the city, as Ontario saw a single-day record 1,388 cases reported on Tuesday. The ban also includes indoor fitness classes.
Oliver said the lack of government action, such as an improved rent program, has had a disproportionate impact on restaurants in Toronto and Montreal.
King Street Company Inc., the company behind another stable of high-end Toronto restaurants, filed for creditor protection on Monday, citing the effects of the pandemic.
Oliver said the government needs to work with the restaurant industry to provide targeted relief.
“There’s a massive disconnect between what’s actually happening in our industry and politicians’ fundamental understanding,” Oliver said
“There’s clearly no one at any of these levels of government who has any experience, and they are not reaching out to folks like us, or the (Canadian Federation of Independent Businesses), or the Canadian Chamber (of Commerce), or Save Hospitality for any actual practical advice... The government is gutting the hospitality industry.”