A Red Deer bar owner says he’s frustrated by the government’s latest COVID-19 restrictions, including a curfew on liquor sales.
Brennen Wowk, owner of Bo’s Bar and Stage in Red Deer, said it’s “short sighted” for the government to prevent bars, restaurants, lounges and other food and drink settings from selling alcohol after 10 p.m.
“As an operation, we made a lot of decisions based on the summer relaunch plan and the fact that when we reached 70 per cent vaccination (in Alberta) we would be able to operate without restrictions in place,” he said.
“As a business, we’re events driven. We’ve created a calendar of events leading into 2022, with the expectation that we’d be able to operate under previous COVID guidelines. The fact that this was changed in such a rushed manner without stakeholder engagement is, in my mind, unacceptable.”
This weekend, the Government of Alberta introduced new measures aimed to slow the spread of COVID-19, including the liquor curfew and a provincewide mask mandate in all indoor, public places.
Wowk said preventing the sale of alcohol after 10 p.m. is not something that should be allowed without providing data that shows this decision will help bring hospitalizations down.
“We have the right to earn revenue, employ our teams and provide for our families,” he said.
“Robbing us of that opportunity is something that needs to be looked at.”
Wowk also said he also wants the government to provide some form of financial support to offset the damages that these current restrictions will have.
“A lot of us have been working hard to rebuild our companies and have been rehiring people. Now with these current restrictions, it might mean we have to look at reducing our staffing and other things to keep our bottom line whole.
“The government throughout this process, specifically the Alberta government, has not shown the support needed to keep industries whole.”
Wowk said there needs to be a “clear timeline” for these restrictions and what metrics need to be met for the measures to be removed.
“I’d like to know if this is the start of additional restrictions,” he added.
Michaela Leicht, supervisor and corporate trainer at The Canadian Brewhouse in Red Deer, said staff will be hit by these restrictions financially.
“All of the staff are going to take such a bad income cut,” Leicht said.
“All of the servers, we rely on liquor especially for all the cheque prices. Without those and sales stopping (earlier), the girls are walking out with less than before. Honestly, everyone in the service industry is probably going to have to go on some kind of income support.”
The atmosphere in the Brewhouse isn’t the same when these restrictions are in place, she added.
“People aren’t able to mingle and socialize as much as they normally do among strangers,” Leicht said.
“It’s hard to be too disappointed and angry by this because you know it’s protecting people.”