The owner of a Red Deer restaurant says business has “dropped” since the government restricted in-person dining.
“Financially things have gone down a lot,” said Andre Lemus, owner of Mexican restaurant Las Palmeras.
“You can’t do much takeout in our line of cuisine because cheese and everything would get hard. Business has dropped a lot.”
The restaurant’s staff members are feeling the impacts of the restrictions as well, he added.
“They’re getting their hours cuts and the front house staff is completely laid off right now,” he said.
In December, the Government of Alberta introduced restrictions shutting down all in-person dining at restaurants and bars. On Jan. 7, Premier Jason Kenney said these restrictions would remain in place until at least Jan. 21.
“I’m hoping on the 21st we’ll see some restrictions being lightened. But it all depends,” Lemus said.
Patrick Guimond, owner of One Eleven Grill, said he doesn’t expect restaurants to allow in-person dining on Jan. 21.
“I think if they open up with the same restrictions and we have a chance of there being a third lockdown, I’d rather not open at this time,” Guimond said.
“I don’t want to have to put our staff through that again. We’ve done it twice now in a year and it’s hard on everyone. I’d rather open when owners know there’s no chance of another lockdown. I know that’s going to be hard for (the government) to judge.
“We need them to understand that restaurants aren’t the super spreaders causing the cases to spike.”
Starting Monday, the government eased some restrictions such as opening up salons and allowing outdoor gathering of up to 10 people, but those did not include restaurants.
Guimond said he was a little disappointed restaurants aren’t part of that group.
“We’re happy someone’s getting to open,” he said.
“It’s definitely a little frustrating. But I guess it’s a good sign that things are starting to open up a bit.”
Not having the answers leaves the restaurant industry in a limbo, said Tribe manager Brandon Bouchard.
“We understand the need to ensure the easing of restrictions is done in a thoughtful and calculated manner, but it’s my opinion that the communication between the government and our specific industry has been lacking,” the downtown restaurant manager said.
“We understand that the government has other priorities today regarding vaccine supply and pipelines, but going days and weeks without updates makes it very difficult to plan ahead.”
In a public letter to the Alberta government, the Alberta Hospitality Association said 150,000 Albertan working in the hospitality industry are struggling.
“The Alberta Hospitality Association supported the government’s decision of a temporary lockdown, but with no clear end in sight and a lack of supporting data it is difficult justifying having some industries close while others remain open,” the association said in the letter, which was released earlier this week.
The association asked the government to re-open dine-in with strong mitigation measures in place, to allow the industry to “provide Albertans a safe space,” and to commit to no more shutdowns.
“Without better communication, fact-based data and a clear near-term reopening plan, we will continue to permanently lose businesses and jobs. This will have long-term repercussions including mass unemployment and irreparable economic and cultural damage in our communities,” the letter said.