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Canadians asked to support local restaurants every Wednesday on Canada Takeout Day

People across the country are being asked to order takeout or delivery from their favourite local eateries every Wednesday as a show of support for Canada’s struggling restaurant industry amid the novel coronavirus pandemic.

The initiative, dubbed Canada Takeout Day, is backed by hundreds of restaurant owners, chefs and culinary leaders and launches on Wednesday, April 15 with a virtual kickoff concert featuring Jim Cuddy, Alan Doyle, Ed Robertson, Barney Bentall and Tom Cochrane.

The concert will be held live at 8 p.m. ET via the Canada’s Great Kitchen Party Facebook page.

Food writer Dan Clapson from explained the initiative while speaking with Global News Morning Calgary on Wednesday.

“It’s just encouraging Canadians that they should still actively be supporting local restaurants cross Canada, regardless of what town or city you live in,” Clapson said. “There’s also a lot of separate, regional campaigns — including one in Calgary — but this is a national one and I feel like it’s really going to catch on.

“What the takeout leg of their business gives [restaurants] is cash flow, which is really important to help a restaurant survive something like this – especially a smaller restaurant.”

Restaurants Canada estimates that 800,000 jobs have been lost in the sector nationwide.

The company, which represents restaurants nationwide, said nearly one in 10 restaurants in Canada have already closed and nearly one in five expect to close if conditions don’t get better in a month.

Is it safe to get takeout or delivery during the coronavirus pandemic?
As Canadians across the country remain housebound in an effort to prevent further spread of the novel coronavirus, many may be questioning how significant the risk of contracting COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, is when handling pickup and delivery items.

Research published in the New England Journal of Medicine last month suggests the virus can live for up to 24 hours on cardboard and up to 72 hours on other surfaces, including plastic.

While there’s a small possibility an infected person may have sneezed or coughed while handling your food order, food science professor Keith Warriner from the University of Guelph said chances that the virus will be passed along via food packaging is slim.

“You always ask them just to leave it at the door,” Warriner said. “You’ve got more chance of being infected by a person rather than a parcel.”

He said frequent handwashing, particularly before or after handling food and containers, can further mitigate the risk.

“I think the risk is probably low,” Dr. Jeff Kwong, associate director of the Centre for Vaccine Preventable Diseases at the University of Toronto, said. “They’re handling the food for a very short period of time and handing it to you … it’s probably safe.”

Jennifer Ronholm, an assistant professor in faculty of agricultural and environmental sciences at McGill University, said research in this area is just starting to come in.

But like the other experts, she feels it’s not an area of significant concern.

“There is not really much — if any — evidence that people are getting sick this way,” Ronholm said. “With this many people, we probably would have seen it if this is a major route of transmission.”

Clapson noted that even before the pandemic, restaurants were held to a high standard of safety.

“If people are concerned about their health and safety practices, I absolutely wouldn’t be.”

— With files from Gregory Strong, the Canadian Press