Patrick Guimond had simply reached a tipping point.
The owner of One Eleven Grill in Red Deer dusted off the old Twitter account of the restaurant he took over last September and typed out a desperate plea to Premier Jason Kenney.
Guimond’s tweet thread didn’t mince words about the struggles his business has faced since the COVID-19 pandemic hit and is especially concerned about the latest measures.
As of Thursday afternoon, the tweet had already been retweeted almost 200 times and has over 330 likes.
“We’re just constantly adapting and it just wears on people. Judging by the response to that tweet, I said what a lot of people were thinking,” Guimond said in a phone interview Thursday.
“We adapt and we still have no idea how far this is going to go,” he said, referring to the stricter provincial measures that were announced Nov. 24.
“We could have curved this a bit earlier on, which would have made a huge difference for everybody.”
The new restrictions meant only a maximum of six people from a single household could dine at a table and no movement between tables.
That put the breaks on a lot of Christmas and holiday gatherings.
“Cutting out the Christmas season from retailers and restaurants is just brutal. We could have avoided this so easily once we saw the numbers rising in September and October. We all kinda knew where we were headed,” he said.
The restaurant owner said since the new restrictions were announced, it’s been devastating for the steakhouse/ entertainment venue. He said they’ve had almost 700 reservations cancelled in December.
“They’ve taken the busiest season when you have groups of people and I get the rules, we have to do what we have to do. If we had have taken care of this earlier, we would have these groups in,” Guimond said, adding he isn’t sure why the venue isn’t allowed live music anymore.
“It’s a big deal.”
Early in the pandemic, he wasn’t sure that a steakhouse would be able to adapt to takeout only service. He credits his staff with taking the transition in stride and the restaurant was doing well, all things considered.
But as COVID-19 numbers started to rise in September and October, he saw the writing on the wall and was worried about what that would mean. He thinks a shutdown at that time could possibly have allowed them to keep many of their reservations during the holiday season.
Now, Guimond isn’t sure what the future holds and like most Albertans, is worried about how to move forward.
“We’ve been pivoting since the whole thing started. It’s been pivot, pivot, pivot and it feels like we’re heading in a big circle. You get traction and then it’s cut out from you again. A lot of people are just losing the energy to keep pivoting,” he said.
Alberta continues to lead Canada in per-capita rates of COVID-19, with 1,685 new cases announced Wednesday. On Thursday, another 1,854 cases were confirmed with for a total active count of 17,743 infections.
Kenney said Wednesday Alberta expects to start getting COVID-19 vaccines in the first week of January, and high-risk patients and health workers will get them first.