Top News

P.E.I. dining rooms to reopen March 4 with revised restrictions

Jillian Campbell of the Olde Dublin Pub prepares a take-out order for a customer on Tuesday during the most recent dining room shutdown. On Wednesday, the province announced it was reopening dining rooms with revised restrictions.
Jillian Campbell of the Olde Dublin Pub prepares a take-out order for a customer on Tuesday during the most recent dining room shutdown. On Wednesday, the province announced it was reopening dining rooms with revised restrictions. - TERRENCE MCEACHERN • The Guardian

Island bars and restaurants dealing with their third dining room shutdown in the past 12 months got a break on Wednesday as they were allowed to reopen earlier than expected.

"We're thrilled that we can open the front door again right now," said Kent MacPhee, co-owner (with Kent Scales) of the Olde Dublin Pub and the Claddagh Oyster House, on Wednesday.

Reopening dining rooms is coming with some restrictions, such as only one group (or cohort) of 50 people, a maximum of six people per table (down from 10 people) and an earlier 10 p.m. closure time. Previously, establishments had to close at midnight. Non-essential businesses were also allowed to reopen.

P.E.I.'s first COVID-19 case was announced on March 14, 2020. Three days later, on March 17, the province shut down dining rooms and non-essential businesses until June 1. A second shut down (circuit breaker) was put in place from Dec. 7 to Dec. 18.


Revised restrictions

  • Dining rooms - maximum of six people at a table (down from 10 people)
  • Bars and restaurants must close at 10 p.m. (previously it was midnight)
  • 50-person capacity
  • The changes took effect Wednesday, March 3 at midnight.

The most recent shutdown, another circuit breaker, was announced on Feb. 28 after six new COVID-19 cases were reported. The shutdown was scheduled to end on March 14. With dining rooms shut down, establishments with food services were reduced to take-out, curbside and delivery services.

"It's a lot less time than we thought earlier in the week," MacPhee said. "We're looking at it as trending positively."

The Olde Dublin and the Claddagh Oyster House have about 40 staff members in total. Of those, about 15-20 were either laid-off or working on reduced hours. MacPhee said after the announcement, the pubs were busy calling back the affected staff members.

"We just revised the schedule. They're all eager to come in."

MacPhee said he wasn't surprised at the shutdown announcement on Feb. 28 given the rise in COVID-19 cases.

"I guess, like everyone else, we were kind of holding our breath hoping that the most recent numbers didn't climb any."

Penny Walsh-McGuire, CEO of the Greater Charlottetown Area Chamber of Commerce, said Wednesday's announcement means the province can get back to business.

"The past few days have been extremely stressful for impacted business owners and their many employees. The chamber is encouraged that businesses, such as retailers, restaurants, and other services, can reopen and safely serve customers once again. We look forward to seeing the further easing of restrictions."

Earlier in the week, MacPhee recalled that it was about a year ago that the Olde Dublin and the Old Triangle Irish Ale House announced they were postponing St. Patrick's Day celebrations.

"I think, a year ago, many of us thought this beast might last for a month or three months or six months, but I don't think any of us foresaw it being a year ... and counting," said MacPhee.

He added that it has been tough to see some staff have to be laid off three times in a year due to COVID-19.

"Thankfully they haven't been long in duration. But, as we know, it doesn't have to be long in duration for people to feel the pinch," MacPhee said.

"In addition to the financial impact, there's the personal welfare of our employees, too. Regardless of how much strength or faith we all have, I think everyone over the past year has been tested."

Terrence McEachern is the business reporter for The Guardian. [email protected] @terry_mcn

RELATED:

Did this story inform or enhance your perspective on this subject?
1 being least likely, and 10 being most likely

Recent Stories