Restaurants are counting on Albertans to help in the COVID battle by following new health restrictions for patrons.
Premier Jason Kenney has announced that families visiting bars or restaurants are limited to six people. Those living alone cannot eat out with more than a couple of others from other households.
Both measures are part of a stepped-up effort to limit opportunities for the virus to spread from one group to another.
Alberta Hospitality Association president and restaurateur Ernie Tsu is already limiting groups to four people at his Trolley 5 Restaurant and Brewery in Calgary.
When customers arrive in groups, they will be informed of the new health regulations and asked whether they comply, he said, but there is no real way to tell if they are being truthful.
“We have to count on Albertans doing the right thing,” said Tsu.
For the province’s restaurant industry, the goal is to get back to the point where curfews can be lifted while maintaining social distancing rules.
“We would agree with whatever measures need to be taken to get us back to full business hours as fast as possible,” said Tsu.
“Every little measure that comes out just slows the restaurants down ever so more.”
While the association hopes to avoid a full lockdown, if that must happen, the key for restaurant owners would be to know how long the lockdown will last, said Tsu.
“It gives us a chance to see how many staff we can keep on and be employed,” he said. “If it’s an indefinite lockdown, we have to lay everyone off.
“If it’s a timed circuit breaker or lockdown, it gives us as entrepreneurs time to see how we can hold on to our team.”
Dylan Handfield, assistant general manager at Red Deer’s Canadian Brewhouse, said staff will also ask groups of customers whether they meet the guidelines.
“For us to implement it, there’s nothing we can do except ask people,” he said.
“Hopefully, everyone is honest and we can get this thing contained and back to normal.”
Restaurants are feeling the pain as the pandemic lingers and new restrictions are added.
The most recent Wing Wednesday — typically a busy night — was one of the slowest Wednesdays he’s seen.
“It’s expected with the times and getting closer to Christmas, everybody is Christmas shopping and saving money for that.
“I get it. It sucks that that’s the reality, but we’re all doing the best we can, and hopefully, we can push through it.”