Dine-in restrictions frustrate some Alberta restaurant owners, doctors call for stricter measures

CALGARY — The latest round of restrictions to combat the spread of COVID-19 in Alberta is sparking major concerns as some restaurant owners plan to defy public health orders. 

Restaurants have been ordered to shut down all indoor dining beginning Friday. Patio service will be permitted. 

Takeout orders are still allowed, but the Alberta Hospitality Association (AHA) says those sales represent just five per cent of the industry and the end of indoor dining could potentially result in hundreds more owners having to close their restaurants. 

“As the province’s third highest employer in the private sectors, restaurants will not service a lockdown,” said Ernie Tsu, AHA president. “You’re talking about 40 to 45 per cent of the industry that does not have patios. Malls still remain open and they talk about capacity, but nobody has been checking capacity there.

“If the province wants a true solution to the problem, why aren’t they locking all of us down?”

Tsu adds that mental health is also an issue that’s not being talked about as COVID-19 fatigue is starting to set in for many Albertans. 

The frustration has resulted in restaurants such as Benny’s Breakfast Bar in southeast Calgary announcing it would open to customers on Friday. 

In a Facebook post, the restaurant says the industry continues to be targeted, while other retail services remain open. 

“I see the government with the infinite wisdom of taxpayer funded collectors have decided to attack the restaurant industry, gyms, and the most head scratching… libraries,” reads the post. 

“Should book stores be closed too then? I guess those heavy breathing intellects who read are scary to government people.”

The post goes on to say that Benny’s Breakfast Bar will remain open on Friday. 

“In over a year, not one of my staff have been sick, not has there been any cases traced back to my restaurant.”

At his Tuesday COVID-19 update, Premier Jason Kenney said financial support for industries affected by the latest round of restrictions will be announced in the days to come. 

Doctors Calling for Stricter Health Measures

While some industries continue to cry foul over additional restrictions, a group of Alberta doctors says more measures are needed to stop the growing spread of COVID-19. 

The Edmonton Zone Medical Staff Association (EZMSA), along with the Calgary and Area Medical Staff Association (CMSA), are sounding the alarm over rising case numbers and calling for an immediate circuit breaker lockdown. 

Modelling data from the EZMSA suggests that in a week from now, the number of COVID variant cases per day will double. 

“This is incredibly concerning and without a timely and appropriate public health response, these numbers will continue to climb, causing our hospitals and ICUs to become overwhelmed by the end of April,” reads a statement from the association. 

Physicians from Calgary and Edmonton will hold a press conference Thursday morning with further details.

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