COVID is severely impacting downtown Hamilton with government workers absent and private offices mostly closed.

The number of people Downtown is a fraction of pre-COVID, and not many people live in the central business district.

The Jackson Square food court primarily serves the office crowd. On Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday evenings, some restaurants stay open for the movie crowd and whatever special events occur at nearby entertainment venues.

There are effectively no office workers and no entertainment crowds. The government COVID subsidies do not cover the losses resulting from effectively no business.

Already, the smaller food outlets have permanently closed with their equipment removed. A few of the stalls are covered. Are they returning?

I walk by the food court once or twice a week, and to describe it as struggling is to be generous.

Today, for the first time I can recall, a Burger King coupon flyer arrived in my mailbox. I live Downtown but never eat in the food court. BK is offering steep discounts. Canada Post delivered the coupons to residences within walking distance of Jackson Square.

The coupons are lost leaders, with sizeable bold type "Valid Only at Jackson Square Food Court." They are time-limited, expiring on September 30.

"There's a Burger King in Jackson Square" was the response of one of my nearby acquaintances.

Walking by the food court around 4 pm today, there was a lineup at the Burger King. The first lineup I've seen post-COVID.

Will the customers return and pay regular prices? The future of the Jackson Square food court may depend on the answer to that question.