With the number of COVID-19 cases doubling virtually overnight, it was only a matter of time before Saskatchewan followed suit with the rest of the provinces and declared a state of emergency yesterday.

Many services, both private and public are affected by these preventative measures. This includes local restaurants.

Effective immediately, some of the guidelines that restaurants must follow are to reduce the number of people allowed to dine with a maximum of 50 patrons or by 50 percent occupancy, whichever is less, along with extra sanitation routines and public distancing, to name a few.

Several restaurants in the city agree that things are rapidly changing, making it difficult to adjust quickly. They also share the same common concerns; the safety of patrons and their staff is a priority.

Pete Tsougrianis, owner of TNT Family Restaurant explains the challenges,

“It's a pretty fast-moving train right now. There are lots of moving parts and I haven't had time to do much yet but something has to get passed. In the short term, we have to look at how are we going to keep this going and is this going to be for a month or day to day or long term. I hope it can be short term but we just don't know.”

In addition to the health and safety concerns owners have and whether to stay open, there is also the added stress of financial concerns over staff.

Owner of Akropol Family Restaurant, John Gannitsos describes his concerns,

“It’s hard for me to close the restaurant down because I don't know what I'm going to do with my staff. I can't afford to pay them wages for 2 weeks or 3 weeks or longer. It's very difficult for me to shut the restaurant down. Honestly, I would love to shut the restaurant down and just do deliveries and take-outs.”

Kaitlin Thomson, owner of Urban Ground Coffeehouse echoes the sentiment that there isn’t a simple solution and people are doing the best they can considering the circumstance. She adds,

“We are keeping the restaurant open and as long as the guidelines say we can stay open, we're just going to do that. We are doing everything we can to keep everyone safe.

There are some delivery companies we can work with to help with getting food to people.

We are trying to accommodate everything that we can within keeping things safe. There are a lot of businesses in the community that people are trying to support, and I think we all appreciate that people are choosing to do their part with keeping everyone safe. I'm very impressed with that.”

The Harvest Eatery in Shaunavon has also decided to close their doors to the public but they will be taking orders for take-out only until further notice.

Part owner and chef, Shaun Hanna of Nightjar Diner Company explains how he feels the community is coming together to support each other through these difficult times. He shares,

“There is a wonderful word going around right now called 'care-mongering'.  You decide that we're all in this together and togetherness is so important and we're seeing a lot of that around. I have to say that I'm really grateful whenever any guest walks through the door, especially at a time like this and we really want, as a business to honour that and to pay it forward in some way so we're posting online that if anyone has grandparents or elderly parents that are having trouble accessing food or toiletries or those essential supplies, send us a message and we'll see what we can do to help.”

He suggests that patrons can support local businesses in other ways as well. He adds,

“If there is a business you regularly frequent, like a hair salon, buy a gift card. That is something you can do to help and support that business.”

The restaurant community in Swift Current remains hopeful that the crisis will pass over sooner rather than later and that the residents are stronger for it.

As some restaurants have decided to remain open for the time being and others have temporally closed their doors, they strongly suggest that guests call ahead of time or go online to get the most up to date information.