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How the Pandemic is Affecting Small Businesses Across Montreal

By Amber North

As the current pandemic continues to unfold, it is only to be expected for all aspects of society to be affected one way or another. But I still was shocked when I found out that Le Chateau and Bar B Barn downtown, the closest one to my house as well as my sister’s favorite restaurant, would be shutting down due to either the economic recession, or the inability to follow the new health measures.

They are not alone. In fact, COVID-19 has crumbled many other businesses, such as retail stores and restaurants, to the point where business owners are faced with no choice but to file for bankruptcy. Le Chateau and Bar B Barn, just to name a few out of the many victims of the difficult circumstances, have been well known to the vast Montreal community for decades.

Interestingly, some stores managed to survive amidst the harsh economic contexts. It makes me ponder how Ardene is resisting the negative repercussions while Le Chateau, which has been around for more than half a century, had no choice but to liquidate its stores and eventually decide to close. According to an article by CTV, the 60-year old Le Chateau’s closure will lead to the unemployment of over 1400 people, perhaps a direct consequence of COVID-19. This should not be the case.

Not only is their closure a tragic affair for the owners and employees, but it is also devastating for many of

Source image: News 1130

their loyal customers. With many restaurants closed and fewer than ever available for take-out orders, people who lack cooking and baking abilities for various reasons are experiencing difficulty to sustain their basic needs of life; after all, home economics is no longer part of the mandatory curriculum at school.

Restaurants have become a necessity for our society over the past, therefore they should be treated as such. Thomas McQueen, the owner of Bar B Barn’s downtown location, had trouble adjusting to the provincial guidelines. In a CBC article, he admitted that the store’s little space was insufficient for physical distancing, and that the day of the store’s closure was “the worst day of [his] life”. Many more business owners continue to experience similar struggles, but survival in the new context is no longer a matter of entrepreneurial strategies; the Quebec government should have done more to help restaurants that have been so faithful to their customers for so long.

Businesses, especially the ones that have been so faithful to their customers for years and years, deserve more than being sacrificed to the pandemic. Government policies/interventions must be implemented to ensure that the ones who will or did lose their jobs will have a new job, or at least be paid until they can find a new job. The tragedies of Le Chateau and Bar B Barn should not happen again. The employees and employers deserve better, and so do we.

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