Alberta Restaurants Get Green Light to Resume Business

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EDMONTON — Alberta announced Wednesday it would be proceeding with its Phase-1 reopening Thursday, which includes on-premise restaurant dining, for most of the province. But given public-health concerns with community spread of COVID-19 in the communities of Brooks and Calgary, government has delayed on-premise restaurant reopening in those communities until May 25.

Restaurants, retailers, hair stylists and barbers and daycares are among the businesses allowed to resume services. Public gatherings are still limited to no more than 15 people and restaurants, bars, pubs and patios would have to operate at half-capacity with a minimum two-metre distance between tables.

As a result, diners should expect staggered openings, Mark von Schellwitz, western vice-president for Restaurants Canada, told the Toronto Star as restaurant owners determine if they can break even by opening at half-capacity while still paying their bills, retraining staff and adapting to health measures to limit the spread of COVID-19.

“It’s like basically reopening a new business,” von Schellwitz said. “They’re going to operate on their own timeline…that can range any time in the next week, (while) some may even take a couple of weeks to get fully open.”

Von Schellwitz said restaurateurs appreciate guidelines issued Monday by the province, but are looking for clarification on health-and-safety rules and details on how, for example, mall food courts will operate compared to stand-alone restaurants.

Von Schellwitz said the industry and its 11,000 restaurants in Alberta still need rent relief, access to operating capital and wage subsidies to get them through the crisis.

“Half the restaurants in Alberta were closed during this whole pandemic, (while) some reopened slightly for takeout and delivery,” he said. “Our last survey indicated that 70 per cent of (Alberta) members are concerned they will not have enough liquidity to pay their vendors, rent and other expenses over the next three months.”

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