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Monday, November 29, 2021

‘It hurts our staff’: Halifax bars react to new early closing-time measure

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Restaurants and pubs in the Halifax region once again have to adjust their business plans, after the province announced that all service must end at 9 p.m.

Tougher restrictions for the municipality went into effect on Saturday after 10 new COVID-19 cases were reported the day prior.

Under the new measures, restaurants and bars must stop serving food and drinks at 9 p.m., and must close by 10 p.m. — one hour earlier than previous measures ordered.

Restrictions are to be in effect until at least March 26, health officials said Friday.

Since the measure was announced on Friday afternoon, several Halifax establishments took to social media to express frustration.

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Cheryl Doherty, co-owner of The Old Triangle, says there is a lack of clear communication from the province to owners who are willing to be pro-active.

“We have some great ideas which we have actually implemented now. The 10-person seating, we’ve actually changed it; we’re not taking groups larger than six. We’re offering paid sick days to our staff, to take sick time and go get tested if they want.

“We do have thoughts and ideas, but they’re not talking to us.”

The new early-closing order caught her by surprise, and Doherty says it’s not just the business that suffers.

“It does hurt us, but it hurts our staff, and that’s really what we’re most upset about.

“Our staff are full-time professional staff, and they have families and they have children, and now they have five hours less a week in wages.”

Obladee, a wine bar located on Barrington Street, also took to Twitter to express frustration with the new rule.

“Good public policy is based on sound evidence. Governments should make public the evidence that they are relying upon to make decisions,” the bar tweeted.

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“When the decision was taken to reduce restaurant operating hours to 9 p.m., no supporting evidence was provided,” it said in the thread.

Hi! 👋🏼 We are calling on the government to explain why they have decided to further limit operating hours for bars & restaurants. TWEET 1/6 pic.twitter.com/lazQloV37f

— Obladee, A Wine Bar (@ObladeeWineBar) February 27, 2021

Chief medical officer of health Dr. Robert Strang said in the Friday briefing that the province is sending a message.

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“In some ways what this does is send a strong message to the public that we need to be smarter,” Strang said.

“Too many people are going out to multiple restaurants, many times a week.”

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