Saskatoon restaurant owners warn against 'jumping the gun' on lifting COVID-19 restrictions
Premier Scott Moe is expected to unveil plans later this week for for an eventual restart of economy
Some restaurant owners in Saskatoon say they want Premier Scott Moe to be extremely cautious about any plans to lift COVID-19 restrictions.
They're losing more money every week but say public safety trumps any economic considerations.
"I don't think they should be looking at reopening quite yet. I don't think they should be jumping the gun too much," said Lisa Mitten, manager of Saskatoon restaurant Pitch Kitchen.
"If they do loosen things up too quick, there'll be a jump in the virus again."
Moe is expected to announce plans to restart the economy Thursday. The timing of any restart is unclear, but Moe has previously said it would be gradual.
For more than a month, many non-essential businesses have been at least partly closed. Restaurants have been offering takeout and delivery, but no one can eat inside.
Mitten and other restaurant owners say their businesses are hurting. Pitch Kitchen has been able to keep all six of its staff because they slashed prices, Mitten said.
"It helps our customers, too. Lots of them have been laid off," she said.
Other restaurant owners agree caution is best. They don't want to put customers and workers in danger and say rushing into a restart could also be bad for business.
George Liakopoulos, whose family has owned the Granada House Restaurant in Saskatoon for more than 40 years, said sales are down 70 per cent, but that it would be disastrous if they opened too soon and a second pandemic wave hit the community.
"We're anxious to reopen, but definitely in a safe way," he said, "We're not pushing for an early opening."
Like the others, Cheesetoast Restaurant owner Tony Antoniadis said he'll listen to the advice of public health officials. He said he's grateful for many regular customers and friends who are ordering even more than usual.
"I'd like to just say that we really appreciate it," Antoniadis said. "You're helping us out."