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Pandemic hits Alberta’s hospitality industry harder than any other sector: CFIB

Click to play video: 'Another Edmonton restaurant on brink of closure as Alberta’s hospitality industry takes biggest hit' Another Edmonton restaurant on brink of closure as Alberta’s hospitality industry takes biggest hit
WATCH ABOVE: Valentine's Day is right around the corner — a day of love that usually comes with chocolates, flowers and a fancy dinner. While the boost in business will help Alberta's struggling hospitality industry, it will take a lot more than that for them to survive the next few months. Chris Chacon reports – Feb 11, 2021

A new report by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business shows the hospitality industry has been the hardest hit sector in Alberta by the pandemic.

According to the CFIB, only six per cent of Alberta restaurants, hotels and caterers are currently open and 57 per cent are at risk of closing permanently.

Read more: Alberta Hospitality Association pushes for reopening plan

“We are definitely a long way off from businesses being back to normal,” said Annie Dormuth, CFIB’s Alberta director.

“It really depends on a lot of factors: how long these restrictions will take place, were all hearing about the variants and of course the vaccine distribution across Canada.”

If businesses don’t get the aid they need quickly, Dormouth says more Albertans will be out of work in the coming months.

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Click to play video: 'Alberta’s unemployment rate saw little change amid small businesses struggling to stay afloat' Alberta’s unemployment rate saw little change amid small businesses struggling to stay afloat
Alberta’s unemployment rate saw little change amid small businesses struggling to stay afloat – Jan 8, 2021

The Alberta Hospitality Association worries more closures could change the hospitality landscape for good.

“The idea of kind of always turning on and off — these businesses are like big ships and you’re trying to make them turn 180 degrees in really fast and choppy water. It’s almost impossible,” said Brennen Wowk, co-president of the Alberta Hospitality Association and owner of Bo’s Bar & Stage.

Read more: Owners of independent Edmonton restaurants push for ‘COVID-zero’ plan

Kaze Finest is one of many restaurants that may not survive the next few months if the situation doesn’t drastically change.

Sandrine Mugisha says it was always her dream to open up a restaurant with her husband Rashib Mawanie.

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The pair opened Kaze Finest African restaurant in May, shortly after the pandemic hit Alberta.

Click to play video: 'Alberta eases COVID-19 restrictions to allow some dining, fitness activities' Alberta eases COVID-19 restrictions to allow some dining, fitness activities
Alberta eases COVID-19 restrictions to allow some dining, fitness activities – Feb 8, 2021

After multiple closures and not being able to offer dine-in service, their dreams quickly turned into a financial nightmare.

“I’ve been using my savings to pay the rent and pay the bills because we are not making enough money,” Mawanie said.

Mawanie says if they don’t get government help or a lot more customers fast, their doors will be closed in two months.

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