- As the holidays approached, the Old Triangle alehouses throughout the Maritimes were hopping with Christmas parties and dinners celebrating the season.
However, that vigour has faded in recent days as the Omicron variant of COVID-19 raged across Canada, and governments imposed new restrictions limiting restaurant capacity and enforcing physical distance between patrons.
“It was depressing,” one of the Old Triangle’s owners, Brendan Doherty, said of the moment he learned his business would be subject to new regulations.
“There have been a few dark moments throughout the pandemic, and this one felt like one of the darker ones, even though we’ve been dealing with this for two years.”
Like most other small business owners, Doherty is lamenting how the “most wonderful time of the year” has devolved into a nightmare of mounting case counts, capacity restrictions or closures, and concerns that many thoughts had passed when COVID-19 cases receded over the summer and fall.
They now fear having to shut down again, lay off employees, and possibly say goodbye to their businesses forever.
While the Old Triangle is doing everything it can to stay open during the latest wave of COVID-19, Doherty says it’s a difficult task, and he’s already had to reduce operating hours.
“With the current testing and isolation guidelines in our province, I’ve got half of my kitchen staff in isolation, and it doesn’t look like they’ll get… test results before Christmas at this point,” he explained.
To make matters more sinister, there is little government support this time around. Most of the large-scale relief programs for small business owners and laid-off workers have recently ended, and only a few have been replaced.
Kelly, Doherty, and Gamelin are all pleading with the government to reintroduce support.
“The government is swift to impose restrictions on us and very slow to provide us with any relief so that we can continue to support all of the people we employ,” Doherty explained.
“We are not scrutinizing to make a fortune here. All we want to do is keep our business running and our employees employed so that people have a roof over their heads.”