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Groups call for urgent action to help restaurant industry amid COVID-19

Last Updated Jul 20, 2020 at 3:08 pm EDT

A server takes orders at a restaurant in Ottawa, on its first day of reopening as Ontario moves into Stage 2 of its plan to lift lockdowns implemented in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, on Friday, June 12, 2020. The Canadian Chamber of Commerce and others are calling on all levels of government to take "urgent action" to keep restaurants viable through the COVID-19 pandemic. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang

The Canadian Chamber of Commerce and others are calling on all levels of government to take “urgent action” to keep restaurants viable through the COVID-19 pandemic.

The group — which includes Molson Coors Beverage Co., Restaurants Canada, and more than a dozen regional chambers of commerce and boards of trade — sent an open letter Monday to the prime minister, Council of the Federation and Federation of Canadian Municipalities.

The group writes that the majority of restaurants face an uncertain future when it comes to continued operation as safety requirements limit revenue and increase costs in an industry with already thin margins.

It says that current government programs are not equipped for the time scale of the pandemic for the restaurant industry, which it says will be among the last to resume normal operations at least 12 to 18 months from now.

They ask the federal government to implement proposed improvements to the emergency wage subsidy, continue to create incentives for people to return to work and start encouraging people to resume pre-COVID activities with safety measures, among other things.

The group asks the federal, provincial and territorial governments to extend the rent relief program, and municipal governments to reduce or defer a number of taxes and fees.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 20, 2020.

The Canadian Press