B.C. caterer calls for 'lifeline' as business chewed up by COVID-19

A B.C.-based catering company is calling on the provincial government to provide a “lifeline” and treat the industry similar to the food and beverage sector amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Brett Turner, co-owner of Joy Road Catering, provides food services at events in Vancouver and the Okanagan. He says business has ground to a halt due to the 50-person limit on events.

“COVID has decimated the catering industry,” Turner told Global News on Monday.

“Most of our events, especially summer season, every event is between 75 and 300 people and so not being able to do events over 50 people… we are down 93 per cent in sales.”

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On June 10, the B.C. Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry issued a revised order for restaurants, which no longer limits the establishments to 50 per cent of their usual capacity.

Instead, each restaurant can determine their own maximum number of patrons and staff based on the size of the premises to accommodate physical distancing.

“So if you have a 400 seat restaurant, maybe you can seat 150 now safely,” Turner said.

He added that the catering industry is being “overlooked” and should face similar COVID-19 regulations as restaurants, bars and pubs.

“I think it would be a lifeline for us if we were able to make something out of July and August,” Turner said.

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Last month, catering giant Culinary Capers announced it was declaring bankruptcy because the imposed restrictions “led us being no longer able to operate our business model,” it said in a statement posted to its Facebook page. Turner fears many more caterers will go belly-up.

“It’s a wake-up call for the events industry that we need to ensure that we have a stronger voice than the one we have now,” he said.

Cheyanne Ackerson, founder of Communiti Collective Events, echoed Turner’s calls to allow the events industry to hold larger scale gatherings.

“It’s been absolutely devastating to my business and the event industry as a whole,” she said.

“The majority of our events are the 75 to 150 mark, so if we can fall within that range, then that would be hugely beneficial to the event industry.”

During her regular press briefing on Monday, Henry defended the province’s imposed restrictions on large scale events, citing public health and safety.

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“That is something that is not going to change,” Henry said.

“When we have events we need small numbers of people, and when you are catering an event like a wedding, like a graduation, whatever it is, those are the settings where we know people get together, they have close contact with each other, so it is a different situation than a restaurant.”

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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