A Summerside restaurant has decided to close for the foreseeable future in light of the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
As of Friday, March 13, at 6 p.m. South Central Kitchen & Provisions closed its doors.
Owner Dan Kutcher said it will not open again until he and his partners are convinced the health risk to the community has subsided.
Kutcher has several family members in the healthcare industry and feels more should be done to help them prepare to deal with this developing healthcare situation.
South Central is a busy place, said Kutcher, and despite the increased efforts to sanitize surfaces, remove objects frequently touched by the public and provide takeout orders only, there is only so much they can do. So they have come to this difficult conclusion.
"Certainly, it's not an easy decision," said Kutcher.
"But we think it's the right decision, and often the right decisions are not easy."
"We're seeing what's happened elsewhere in the world," he added.
"We're very fortunate on P.E.I. as we're sort of the end of the line. But there is nothing to suggest it won't become a very real problem here. And taking strong steps now is the best way we can contribute to the health of our community and our staff."
Kutcher said the decision is based on the idea of 'flattening the curve,' of COVID-19 infections.
Flattening the curve is a reference to a disease control method that includes measures like banning mass gatherings and shutting down all non-essential services to slow down the spread of the virus and avoid overwhelming medical resources and compounding the situation.
Kutcher said that even though there are no confirmed or presumptive cases of COVID-19 on P.E.I., it's important to take action now instead of waiting until the virus is already here and spreading out of control in the community.
He's hopeful other Island restaurants will follow suit and hopefully mitigate the long-term harm.
The Tourism Industry Association of Prince Edward Island (TIAPEI) also issued a statement Friday stating that while it continues to work with provincial and federal, officials it is looking to hear from its members about their COVID-19 concerns.
It is asking all its members to complete a survey outlining any extra preventative health measures they are taking and what kind of monetary impact the situation is having on their business.
TIAPEI chief executive officer Kevin Mouflier said the industry's first concern is the health of its employees and the people they serve.
"I strongly urge all members of the tourism industry to ensure both you and your employees are well informed with the most up to date information and practice all recommended health and safety precautions issued by the Public Health Agency of Canada and Health P.E.I," said Mouflier.