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Easing of pandemic restrictions brings change, disappointment to NS businesses

The easing of some pandemic restrictions announced Wednesday has meant big changes for some Halifax-area business owners as they prepare to reopen, and disappointment for others whose doors will stay closed into the new year.

The easing of some pandemic restrictions announced Wednesday means big changes for some Nova Scotia businesses as they prepare to reopen, and disappointment for others whose doors will stay closed into the new year.

At the Stubborn Goat Gastropub in Halifax, the business model has switched to takeout and delivery.

The downtown eatery made the change when the provincial government announced Nov. 24 that restaurants and pubs in the Halifax area and parts of Hants County would have to close to in-person dining as COVID-19 cases started ramping up.

At the time, the closures were expected to last for two weeks. This week, however, those restaurants and pubs were told to keep their dining rooms closed until Jan. 10. 

By the time that update came, employees at the Stubborn Goat had already strung lights and garland for the festive season in hopes of reopening their doors before Christmas. 

"We had decorated for the holidays in the hope of welcoming people into our hospitable environment," said Joe McGuinness, the co-owner of the Legendary Hospitality Group. "That's what we do, we're in the hospitality industry." 

Restaurants in Halifax must stay closed until at least Jan. 10. (Shaina Luck/CBC)

McGuinness's hospitality group owns three restaurants in Halifax: Stubborn Goat, Antojo Tacos and Tequila, and Durty Nelly's. Together, they employ about 175 people in the winter season, but currently the staffing is between 15 and 18 people. 

Restaurants outside of the Halifax Regional Municipality and parts of Hants County can stay open for dine-in, but must stop service by 10 p.m. and close by 11 p.m. 

McGuinness said he trusts the provincial government is trying to make the best possible decisions to contain the spread of COVID, but suggested more advance information would be helpful. 

"It's certainly a disappointment. We do not have access to all the data that the Department of Health and the government has," he said. 

"You know, if the government could maybe share with us what that epidemiology forecast might look like, which would give us an indication that we might be opening."   

He encouraged people to support restaurants through takeout, delivery, or buying gift cards during what would otherwise be a busy season. He said the national industry association, Restaurants Canada, believes approximately 10 per cent of restaurants may not survive the pandemic. 

Gyms preparing to reopen

While some restaurants and pubs in Nova Scotia are required to remain closed to in-person dining, the government announced this week that all fitness and recreational facilities will be able to reopen.

Karlee Handy says the F45 Mumford training facility needs to completely reset the room in order to reopen. (Pat Callaghan/CBC)

Across the province, those facilities must operate at 50 per cent capacity. Masks must be worn while not exercising and three metres of distance must be maintained when performing high-intensity workouts.

Karlee Handy, the head trainer at the gym F45 Mumford, said she needs to reset the room to comply with the restrictions. 

"We have to do quite a bit, because currently our room is set up for six feet between stations, so we're going to have to increase that to 10 feet," she said.  

"So quite a few things to do in the next couple of days."

The restriction changes take effect Monday.

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