Coronavirus pandemic could see 15% of B.C. restaurants close for good, says industry

The organization representing B.C.’s restaurant industry says the novel coronavirus pandemic could result in up to 15 per cent of restaurants shuttering for good.

BC Restaurant and Food Services Association president Ian Tostenson said that would be the worst-case scenario, but business owners are worried.

The City of Vancouver ordered all bars and restaurants closed for St. Patrick’s Day on Tuesday, and the province has banned gatherings of more than 50 people.

Many restaurants have moved to offering only takeout and delivery, while others, like the Donnelly Group which owns more than a dozen eateries in Vancouver, are laying off hundreds of staff.

“It’s probably the right thing to do. We can participate in just healing the province quickly by letting people just sort of be away from it,” said Tostenson.

“But at the same time, we need to make sure … that we give enough economic power back to the small business people involved with the community be able to start up when when they can start up again.”

Tostenson said B.C.’s restaurant industry generates more than $13 billion in economic activity and employs more than 180,000 people.

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