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An estimated 24,500 Nova Scotians have lost their food service industry jobs due to the outbreak of COVID-19, according to a new survey published by Restaurants Canada.

It paints a grim picture of the sector’s future in the province: four out of five restaurants have laid off staff since March 1, roughly one in 10 have closed their doors forever, and another 18 per cent will go under within a month if current conditions continue.

“We’re the number three private-sector employer in Nova Scotia and we need help,” said Luc Erjavec, vice-president of Restaurants Canada in the Atlantic.

“While we really appreciate the work done today by the federal and provincial governments, there’s more to be done.”

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But in the midst of plummeting revenue, laid-off workers and mounting bills, some Nova Scotia restaurant owners are choosing to weather the storm by changing up their business models.

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The Tart and Soul Cafe in Halifax, for example, has created a new online shop, and for the very first time, is offering meals and baked goods for pickup and delivery.

“A lot of the things we’re doing now are things we’ve talked about doing, discussed or brainstormed doing, but never took the time to implement,” said cafe co-owner Safia Haq.


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