Ontario restaurants will struggle to reopen their doors post COVID-19, survey says
A man tapes signs in a restaurant window in Toronto on Sunday March 22, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
TORONTO -- Most food service businesses in Ontario will not have enough cash flow to successfully reopen their doors when COVID-19 restrictions are eased, a new survey says.
Restaurants Canada, which represents the national food service industry, is now calling on the provincial government to help these businesses make it through the pandemic and not have to shut down.
“The resiliency of our industry won’t be enough to ensure Ontario’s 38,000 restaurants remain viable in the face of insufficient cash flow and insurmountable debt,” James Rilett, a regional vice president for the organization, said in a news release Thursday.
“The province needs to come to the table with a package of solutions to help these mostly small and medium-sized businesses stay afloat as they ramp up their operations.”
The agency said that as the province continues to lift emergency measures, restaurants will need more support until they are on a “path to recovery.”
The survey, which was conducted between May 1 and May 5, found that seven out of 10 respondents said they are either very or extremely worried that their businesses won’t have enough liquidity to pay vendors, rent and other expenses over the next three months.
It also found that at least one out of five independent restaurant operators are struggling with a landlord who is not willing to provide rent relief.
Fourteen per cent of these restaurants haven’t been able to pay rent for April and nearly 20 per cent won’t be able to do so for May.
“If conditions do not improve, the province’s food service sales could be down by as much as $7 billion for the second quarter of 2020,” Restaurants Canada said.
“The industry might not be able to recover the more than 300,000 jobs it’s lost due to COVID-19.”