Late-night beer runs on hold under Quebec's curfew, to dismay of depanneur owners
Owners say evening hours are the most lucrative
Depanneurs are the saving grace for Quebecers grabbing last-minute pickups, but under the new curfew, owners say their most lucrative hours are about to be taken away.
"The four hours until 11 p.m. have the highest turnover. Now, they are cutting it," says Michel Youssef, the owner of Dépanneur Beau Soir in St-Henri.
Depanneurs have so far been spared any closures during the COVID-19 pandemic, but under the new lockdown regulations coming into effect Saturday, they will have to close at 7:30 p.m.
"I hope people will adapt to the changes and come a bit earlier to pick up their things, otherwise it'll result in a big drop in sales," Youssef said.
Jeffrey Xue has been manning the cash at Dépanneur St-Henri almost exclusively throughout the pandemic. His employee quit when cases began to rise.
"[The curfew] is very bad. Closing earlier means I'll lose customers," he said.
"The only good thing is that I can go to sleep earlier, but I have to survive."
The other worry is just how long the new restrictions will last. As of now, the government says the plan is to lift the curfew on Feb. 8.
"If it's one month, it should be okay. But if they add another month and another one and another one, like they did with restaurants, it's not good," Youssef said.
Tackling COVID-19 cases
Other owners understand the need for extreme measures.
"It's good for the system, for dealing with coronavirus," said Albert Sleeman, the owner of Dépanneur Laurion, also in St-Henri.
"Sure we'll lose business but I think people know we'll be open until 7:30 and need to come earlier."
Sleeman offers delivery so hopes that will make up for the closed doors.
For his part, Xue says he hopes cases do go down but doesn't understand why corner stores need to close but schools remain open.
"For businesses, people come and put on masks, they wash their hands," he said, saying he limits capacity in his store to just four customers.