Bar owners rally for bailouts, but Legault says they must pony up paperwork
MONTREAL -- Quebec has a new group of pot-banging protesters: the owners of some of the province’s biggest bar and restaurant chains.
They say they’re fed up with the ever-elongating red-zone lockdown and a lack of government support.
But on Tuesday, the same day they held a protest in the Old Port, Premier François Legault fired back at their complaints, saying help is coming but some restaurants haven’t been taking the steps required.
“Some are unhappy because we are asking [for] invoices,” the premier told CTV News during a press conference.
The restaurant owners say they’ve been following the rules, keeping clients safe and trying to keep staff employed. But the current situation can’t continue indefinitely, they say.
“They shut us down for another two months and another two months, for a minimum of January 11, out of nowhere,” said Jean-Jacques Beauchamp of the Quebec Bar Owners’ Association.
“And if you go into a shopping centre” or a big box store, he said, “nobody is doing the distanciation, but bars and restaurants, we have to be shut down.”
“We don't know why they close us, and then they promise grants and the grants are not coming,” said Peter Sergakis, a businessman and property owner who owns several bars.
“We are desperate and we want the grants and to open.”
Legault said the payments are on their way—once the owners show proof of their losses.
“They don't want to present invoices or proof of the rent they pay,” he said. “Of course, we manage the money of Quebecers, so we cannot pay without having the proof that they paid so much for rent and taxes.”
Restaurant and bar owners and staff have also complained recently that they won’t be allowed to reopen at all over Christmas, even during the four-day period when some limited gatherings are allowed.