December is always one of the busiest months of the year for restaurants.
Whether its friends catching up, team or company parties, steady crowds are always pouring in, making it a major money-maker.
This year, however, COVID-19 and the restrictions that have come along with it will drastically alter that.
Ian Tostenson, president of the BC Restaurant and Foodservices Association, says restaurants as a whole across the province could lose up to $1 billion in revenue in December alone — with Vancouver Island restaurants losing anywhere from $300-350 million.
“This is probably the toughest, I think, in the entire 10 months of this pandemic for our industry right now,” said Tostenson.
The current restrictions only allow for people to attend with members of their immediate household, or in smaller individual bubbles for singles — meaning Christmas parties, room rentals and generally large crowds are not allowed.
For the Canoe Brew Pub in Victoria, the restrictions are really hurt. As with so many restaurants, they rely on a strong holiday season push to make it through the surrounding, slower months comfortably.
“The fall is traditionally soft and then January and February are traditionally soft in Victoria so Christmas always provides that bump in the quieter months,” said the pub’s general manager, Alistair Eason.
It’s not just restaurants like the Canoe Brew Pub that are feeling the pinch from the province’s COVID-19 restrictions.
The cab companies who help people get to and from those establishments safely are also suffering.
Haemant Sawh, general manager of Blue Birds Cabs, says their revenue will likely drop off by 75 per cent this month.
“Our business especially in the evening times, late evenings late nights has almost dropped off completely. After 10 p.m. it becomes non-existent,” Sawh said.
The company insists that they’re following all safety protocols and that a ride with them is a safe one.
Meanwhile, industry analysts are projecting that thousands of restaurants across the province won’t make it through the pandemic.
In hopes of keeping that number as low as possible, Tostenson is urging British Columbians to get out and support their local restaurants.
“Restaurants are safe. We were the first industry to pull all that discipline in place, acknowledged by Dr. Henry, so don’t be shy about going to a restaurant,” Tostenson said.