The winter term began with the entirety of New Brunswick in the Orange phase of provincial COVID-19 restrictions. After a difficult fall term, and the recent descent of Zone 3 (Fredericton) into Red phase, The Cellar has decided to remain closed until a return to Yellow phase.
The Orange restrictions in the fall term limited dining to members of a single-household bubble, and the current Red restrictions limit The Cellar to only providing takeout options.
Ryleigh Hatch, a manager at The Cellar, says the Orange restrictions proved challenging to the pub. Restrictions on seating capacity, and the ability to dine with people outside of your single-household bubble, “is one of the hardest things for a business that depends on volume of sales.” Red restrictions completely eliminate revenue from indoor dining.
In addition to the restrictions imposed by the province, UNB has implemented their own set of restrictions on The Cellar. Notably, UNB will not allow members of the public into the pub. All patrons must be students, staff, or faculty of UNB or STU.
Hatch feels that The Cellar has been singled out by this rule. “UNB allows people who are not current UNB/STU students, staff or faculty into the gyms as well as allowing them to rent out the rink and other campus facilities.”
Arguing with staff about the rule is not helpful, notes Hatch. “I believe the only way to change this would be for students of UNB, STU, NBCC, and the greater UNB community to make an appeal to UNB.”
The closures have had a particularly negative effect on Cellar staff. Nicole Herbet is a server at The Cellar and has felt the impact in multiple ways.
“Physically, I must compensate in other ways. I was on my feet and being physically active for upward of eight hours. Socially, I am no longer in contact with my work colleagues, and there is no opportunity to socialize with patrons.”
As a recent graduate of UNB, Hatch faces much financial uncertainty. “It has been a month since I have worked at The Cellar, which is disheartening because this is a place I enjoy and depend on for financial stability. My current EI benefits are much lower than my previous CRB payments and typical income from The Cellar.”
Despite the uncertainty surrounding provincial health regulations, both Hatch and Hebert are hopeful about a return to the Yellow level of restrictions, and the reopening of The Cellar.
“Students can best support The Cellar by joining us for meals and ensuring they have no symptoms when entering the bar, following the guidelines in place, and being patient with staff,” says Hatch.
Hebert encourages patrons to also support the business in other ways. “Students can support by liking, sharing, commenting, informing friends, or leaving a review,” on the pub’s social media pages.
Upon reopening, The Cellar will be offering indoor dining along with robust takeout options. Takeout will be available on Kangaroo and NB Eats, along with curbside pick-up.
Editor's Note: The Cellar announced its reopening for the remainder of the semester on February 2.