Spike in variant COVID-19 cases and possible closures worry some Alberta restaurant owners

A rise in COVID-19 variant cases, and the possibility of further restrictions, has some Alberta restaurant owners fearful of what’s to come.

“If we keep opening and closing and opening and closing, that’s not helping us long-term,” Arcadia Brewing owner Darren McGeown said.

Read more: Kenney blames feds, Albertans who break rules for serious surge in COVID-19 cases

With the number of COVID-19 variant cases rising, McGeown decided to close dine-in service, which he said was a necessary move to keep his staff and customers safe.

“If we make decisions like this, we’re just going to get through this hopefully a little faster and then things can be better.”

While he looks to stay afloat with just takeout service, McGeown says he would like to see tighter restrictions.

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For the owner of restaurant One Eleven Grill in Red Deer, it feels a little like deja-vu.

Last December, Patrick Guimond raised the alarm that the province acted too slowly as cases surged, which he says cost him the lucrative Christmas season.

Read more: Red Deer business may ‘have had Christmas season’ if COVID-19 restrictions enacted earlier: owner

He said closing dine-in service now is just not an option.

“Summertime is not a good time for restaurants as it is — it’s not our busy time — and having to do it all takeout when people can just BBQ at home, it’s going to be a tough go,” Guimond said.

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With several other province’s already tightening restrictions, he’s worried Alberta might follow suit.

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“It’s hard to look at my staff in the eye and say that we’re not headed for that but I know we are and I’m already preparing for that,” Guimond said.

There have been recent outbreaks at other establishments in the province, including dozens of cases linked to three Joey restaurants in Calgary and Edmonton.

Read more: Rise in COVID-19 cases, variants ‘a wake-up call for all Albertans,’ Kenney says

But Guimond hopes restrictions don’t shut him down again.

“Honestly, COVID isn’t our fear anymore, I don’t think… Surviving economically is more the fear now.”

As for McGeown, he hopes others will follow his lead, so that the province can get be back to some normalcy by the summer.

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