The co-owner of a coffee shop franchise in the Halifax Shopping Centre has seen a dip in business since masks were made mandatory for indoor public spaces.
"There's been an impact for sure. It's just not as easy to grab a coffee and walk around the mall," said Ed Grant, who has operated the Second Cup for more than five years.
Grant's shop was closed for nine weeks in the spring because of the pandemic.
Sales were just starting to pick up when the new rules for masks were introduced. Grant said he supports the idea of wearing masks, but said his space is too small to accommodate more than three tables.
The Restaurant Association of Nova Scotia believes that mall space may need to be reinvented.
"It's not grab and go anymore; it's grab and where do you go? Most malls have enough space to create a patio inside," said Gordon Stewart, the association's executive director.
Stewart said his association has already had discussions with one private mall owner about this issue. He adds that places that do have access to outdoor space will soon have to make other types of changes because of the colder weather.
"There are some patios that are going to go year-round in Halifax. They're already planning for outdoor heaters, and that change is probably a good thing," said Stewart.
He said even with creative changes, it's going to be a challenge for businesses to survive the pandemic. Citing a Dalhousie University and Angus Reid survey from June, he said only about 50 per cent of Nova Scotians feel comfortable going into a restaurant.
Grant agrees that times could get even tougher.
"There's no playbook here for anybody. I think we're in for a very interesting winter," Grant said.
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