Halifax restaurants closing before Christmas as COVID-19 case numbers rise

·3 min read
Edna Restaurant on Gottingen Street in Halifax has temporarily closed its doors as COVID-19 case numbers skyrocket in Nova Scotia. (ednarestaurant.com - image credit)
Edna Restaurant on Gottingen Street in Halifax has temporarily closed its doors as COVID-19 case numbers skyrocket in Nova Scotia. (ednarestaurant.com - image credit)

Some restaurants around Halifax and Dartmouth have made the decision to shut down early this week as rising COVID-19 case numbers threaten the holiday season.

Nova Scotia has been reporting record-setting daily case counts, adding up to more than 2,500 new cases since late last week — many of which have been in the central health zone.

Heather Townsend, the co-owner of Edna on Gottingen Street, said she made the decision Saturday to close her restaurant after the province reported 426 new cases.

"The staff doesn't feel safe, and we don't feel like we can put them in that position to force people to work in a situation where they're uncomfortable," Townsend said Monday.

In light of the jump in cases, the province did implement tighter restrictions on bars and restaurants on Friday, many of which have been facing staffing challenges or closures due to positive cases or exposures.

"Although we take all the recommended precautions, clearly it's not working the way that we wish," Townsend said.

"And so we're risking [staff] being able to see their families, being able to leave their homes for two weeks and we just can't take that chance."

On Tuesday, the province announced it would tighten those restrictions even further. Bars and restaurants must operate at 50 per cent capacity or lower, with only 10 people per table, at least until Jan. 12.

Dine-in service must stop at 11 p.m. local time, and restaurants must close by midnight. Takeout, drive-thru and delivery can operate later, however.

Before these new restrictions were announced, several other restaurants in the area also decided to shut their doors early ahead of the holidays.

In an Instagram post, The Bicycle Thief announced it would close "out of an abundance of caution" on Monday. The restaurant said it would reopen once COVID-19 case numbers decline.

The Cheeky Neighbour also announced its closure on Sunday.

"It has become clear to our team that the current risks of being open do not outweigh the rewards," an Instagram post from the restaurant said.

The post said the restaurant would reopen once the owners feel more comfortable with the COVID-19 situation.

The Cottage Cafe in Dartmouth also shut down early this week.

"A number of my staff, they're going to spend Christmas with family and some of them are high risk," said Danny Martin, the owner and operator.

"And I just said, 'Why risk it? We've dodged a bullet so far. Why push it?' Things have gotten so bad this week."

Martin said the restaurant closed Monday but he is considering opening on Christmas Eve, just to offer takeout frozen food for the holidays.

The restaurant is expected to reopen on Dec. 28.

"My big thing is I just want everybody to get through Christmas without getting sick or exposed that they'd have to self-isolate for three days and miss Christmas with the family," he said.

Meanwhile, Townsend said she doesn't know when Edna will reopen.

She said she will try to reopen next week if case numbers improve and staff are more comfortable with the situation.

If not, she's hoping to provide takeout for the time being.

"We'll do anything at this point … we're hoping to be able to have our New Year's Eve," she said.

"We're sold out for this year, so hopefully that [happens], but we're only going to do that if everyone's comfortable and feels safe and confident."

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