As Alberta businesses adjust to more restrictions yet again, a Canadian business group has warned some may not survive much longer.
“It’s coming at a terrible time. This is the holiday season, many venues and restaurants have events and parties booked already,” the Canadian Federation of Independent Business’ Kathleen Cook said.
“For some businesses certainly it’s the final nail in the coffin.”
On Tuesday, the Alberta government announced more, stringent restrictions for the hospitality sector. Businesses compliant with the Restrictions Exemption Program that serve food will have limits of 10 people per table and alcohol service must end at 11 p.m., followed by the closure of restaurants, pubs and bars at 12:30 a.m.
The CFIB said despite newly announced federal support measures — it’s definitely taking a toll.
“Many businesses took on significant debt just to get through the pandemic. They’re dealing with inflation, labour shortages and supply chain disruptions, so at a time when all of their costs are going up now they have to take a hit to their revenues,” Cook added.
“Some businesses are not going to be able to withstand that.”
The Portuguese Society of Calgary is one of those businesses affected by the new provincial restrictions.
The non-profit had planned a New Year’s Eve celebration for its members, but now those plans have been cancelled — just days before the event.
The society’s vice-president Stephanie Rodrigues said it just didn’t make sense to stay open when they’d have to close shortly after ringing in the New Year.
“I don’t want to take the risk,” she told Global News. “Don’t want to kick everybody out at 12:30. We can’t clear this place out in half-an-hour.”
The annual event was also cancelled last year, but this year there were high hopes it would go ahead to celebrate the society’s 50th anniversary.
Rodrigues said this is another huge loss on top of other losses due to the pandemic over the past two years.
“Members don’t come here anymore. You just see the regulars, the older crowd in the morning,” she said.
“On Saturday nights you also see a big drop.
“We’re lucky if we have maybe 10 people in here.”
Rodrigues said the current board is resigning at the end of their term and she doesn’t know who will take over. However, she added who does takeover, has a big challenge ahead of them and she hopes the club can survive.
“I hope it does. This is the only Portuguese member’s house that we have left (in Calgary) where they can speak their language, eat their traditional foods,” she said.
“But can I see it go through another year of a pandemic? They will struggle.”
The CFIB called today’s expansion of the federal support programs “a big improvement, but not perfect.”
The Calgary Chamber of Commerce said the expansion of the Local Lockdown Program means more stability for businesses amidst circuit-breaker measures.
It pointed out more than 70 per cent of businesses have accessed these supports and it will continue to advocate for more help going forward.