Nfld. & Labrador

Hospitality industry hoping for break in COVID-19 restrictions following Omicron wave

Health officials in Newfoundland and Labrador have said the province will stay in its modified version of Alert Level 4 until Monday but they will announce changes at Thursday's COVID-19 briefing.

Department of Health says update on alert level coming Thursday

Cindy Whalen-Purtill, who owns the Georgestown Inn in St. John's with her husband, John Purtill, says the Omicron wave of COVID-19 has hit their business harder than previous pandemic waves. (Darryl Murphy/CBC)

A bed and breakfast owner in St. John's says she hopes changes to Newfoundland and Labrador's COVID-19 alert level will be good news for her business and the provincial hospitality industry. 

Cindy Whalen-Purtill, co-owner of the Georgestown Inn with her husband, John Purtill, says the pandemic's Omicron wave has hit business harder than previous waves, with many bookings cancelled in recent weeks, leading to little to no income over the last month.

"It's been tougher this time than it was this time last year. We've had zero income since December, and every Monday we're with bated breath hoping that we're going to see a lift on restrictions so that we can reopen," Whalen-Purtill said. "And it hasn't happened yet."

The provincial Health Department has said the province will stay in its modified version of Alert Level 4 until at least Monday but officials will announce changes to the levels at a briefing Thursday. Officials said earlier this week that the changes will take effect Monday.

Whalen-Purtill said she hopes some COVID-19 restrictions will be lifted.

"For us, it will mean income because we'll be able to open the tea room for Valentine's Day, and we already have some bookings for Valentine's Day for the inn," she said. "We're hoping that we're not going to have to cancel those."

Many bookings at the inn have been cancelled due to Newfoundland and Labrador's COVID-19 situation, says Whalen-Purtill. (Darryl Murphy/CBC)

She said she hopes some restrictions come down so people become comfortable with patronizing more businesses and restaurants again, she said.

"We understand the uncomfortableness, but I do think that the restrictions led to people feeling uncomfortable, and probably rightly so," she said.

"We're a very vaccinated province, and hopefully a boosted province. I think people are going to start to feel more comfortable with the fact that we are boosted but with keeping some of those restrictions in place."

She also hopes that restrictions can be loosened to give a boost to tourism this year, with bookings already in place for provincial Come Home Year celebrations scheduled for later this year.

"We're pretty excited and very hopeful," she said. "People are feeling positive."

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

With files from Peter Cowan


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