Some Calgary restaurants may not open for dine-in, despite provincial green light

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Calgary restaurants may not open for dine-in despite provincial green light
WATCH ABOVE: Restaurants in Alberta’s largest city are free to open dining rooms on Monday as Calgary and Brooks join the rest of the province in Phase 1 of its relaunch strategy. But as Cami Kepke reports, not all restaurants are ready to take the plunge – May 22, 2020

Hair salons, barber shops and restaurants are getting the green light to open in Calgary and Brooks on Monday as those two cities join the rest of Alberta for Phase 1 of its relaunch.

However, that doesn’t mean all businesses are ready for people to come back in.

“We don’t feel comfortable opening in, probably, at least four weeks,” said Prairie Dog Brewing co-founder Laura Coles.

In a breakdown posted to the brewpub’s website, Prairie Dog says there are a lot of challenges in letting customers inside amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, and it’s not as simple as spacing out tables and printing paper menus.

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“We were confident we could open and safely serve our guests,” Coles said. “We’re not confident we can open and keep our staff safe.

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“If one of our staff were to get infected, it would shut us down. We’ve already closed our doors once, and we kind of expelled that extra capital we had during that time. We can’t afford to close our doors again if we reopen and have to close.”

CRAFT Beer Market president PJ L’Heureux said the group’s Calgary location won’t be open Monday, but they hope to have people back inside by June.

The downtown staple was originally poised to open on May 14 as part of the province-wide relaunch, but L’Heureux was surprised to find out Calgary and Brooks would be required to take a slower approach due to the high COVID-19 case numbers in those cities.

“We regret that some restaurants had purchased inventory two weeks back and were understandably disappointed with the decision that was taken to delay sit-in service,” Premier Jason Kenney admitted Friday.

L’Heureux said CRAFT was able to sell some of the product it prepared through pickup and delivery, but not as much as they would have with dine-in service.

Global Strategy Lab director Dr. Steven Hoffman said Canadians need to be prepared to face a second wave of COVID-19.

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“There’s a very good likelihood that government will need to reapply these layers of protection if we do get a second wave, or a third wave after that,” he told Global News.

“Everyone hopes we don’t get further waves, but the reality is that this virus is spreading globally, and as long as there’s cases of COVID-19 around the world, there is a good chance that it will come back to Canada.”

Many Calgary restaurants say a second closure could be financially devastating and they plan to stick to pickup and delivery for now.

“We are relying on the Canadian wage subsidy (CEWS), because without it, we would have possibly had to close our doors,” Coles said “Because of that, we’re able to survive on the takeout and delivery.

“With it, we’re at about 50 per cent of what we were making when we were dialed in. So it’s keeping our lights on and right now, the bills that we have to pay, paid.”

“The small owner-operated restaurants were often a family’s life savings… tied up in that enterprise,” Kenney noted. “I think some of the larger chains have… more capacity to get through this.

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“But it’s the owner-operated restaurants and bars that are really on the front lines of this downturn and these public health measures.”

Kenney said the province will look at additional options to help small- and medium-sized Alberta businesses at a cabinet meeting on Monday.


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