MONTREAL -- The COVID-19 pandemic has been a disaster for the restaurant industry, causing the loss of 800,000 jobs in the commercial sector so far, according to Restaurants Canada.

A recent survey revealed that, since March 1, 10 per cent of restaurants across the country have permanently closed their doors.

In addition, 80 per cent of restaurant owners have had to lay off staff.

If conditions do not improve, the survey finds in a month’s time, 70 per cent of restaurateurs will have to cut employee hours or continue laying people off and 18 per cent of restaurants will shutter.

Shanna Munro, president of Restaurants Canada, says the restaurant industry has been one of the first to feel the effects of the COVID-19 crisis and has so far been one of the most affected in Canada.

She adds the restaurant industry accounts for four per cent of the country's gross domestic product (GDP).

If the crisis persists, Restaurants Canada forecasts a decline in sales of nearly $20 billion in the second quarter of 2020.

The results of the survey were obtained in collaboration with responses provided by 655 restaurants in Canada from March 25 to 29.

This report by the Canadian Press was first published April 2, 2020.