‘Like a death march’: Restaurateurs hungry for word of lockdown’s end

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Some of those businesses are long-standing, well-established ones, which indicates the depths of the challenges, said Tsu.

A virtual meeting with Alberta Health officials Wednesday left him with the impression a reopening is still weeks away, but was encouraged they’re willing to work with a plan offered by his group.

Those sentiments were echoed by Mark von Schellwitz, western vice-president of Restaurants Canada, who said he’s hoping for an easing of restrictions sometime in February.

“Literally every week that goes by, we’ll have more casualties,” he said.

“You want to be optimistic but some (operators) are a little concerned there’s no definite date.”

One Edmonton-based eatery chain with 14 locations across Alberta, he said, recently shut down permanently due to the repeated lockdowns.

Restaurant operators are hoping the province will drop a law confining customers to household bubbles, he said.

“It’s much safer than having house parties for things like the Super Bowl, because it’s a controlled environment,” said von Schellwitz.

The Vintage Chophouse & Tavern in Calgary’s beltline displayed a closed sign on Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021. Current pandemic restrictions still do not allow in-person dining. Photo by Gavin Young/Postmedia

On Wednesday, the province reported 744 COVID-19 patients in hospital — 124 of those in ICU — amid 10,565 active cases and a testing positivity number of 4.5 per cent.

That compares with COVID-19 numbers on Jan. 6 that included 911 hospitalizations with 141 of those in ICU, 13,450 active cases and a 6.5 per cent test positivity rate.

It’s encouraging those numbers are dropping and it suggests measures taken beginning in December are succeeding, Alberta’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said Tuesday.

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