While the Alberta government is allowing certain businesses to reopen amid loosened restrictions this week, Alberta indoor dining at foodservice is not among them.
The provincial government announced last week that, although there would be a slight easing of the current COVID-19 restrictions for outdoor gatherings and personal services beginning January 18, on-premise dining will remain closed.
It had previously been hoped that Alberta indoor dining would be able to start up again in the province from January 22 as the current restrictions were to set to expire on January 21.
Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. Deena Hinshaw and the COVID-19 Cabinet says it will be monitoring progress made on reducing the spread of COVID-19 and will ease on-premise dining restrictions when deemed safe to do so.
The Alberta Hospitality Association (AHA) is requesting more clarity form the government, including “fact-based rationale” as to why indoor dining cannot roepen.
“It’s an extremely frustrating situation,” said the AHA’s Jeff Jamieson, who is also the owner of several Calgary restaurants, told CTV. “We’ve been repeatedly asking (the province) for data and fact-based rationale.”
The AHA has a plan it is submitting to the province that it believes would allow restaurants and bars to reopen safely while maintaining proper COVID-19 safety measures.
It wrote an open letter to the province earlier this month. In that letter, it asked the provincial government to reopen dine-in with strong risk mitigation measures in place, allow the industry to provide Albertans with a safe space, and “commit to no more shutdowns and lay out the milestones to normality.”
“Hundreds of thousands of jobs across the province depend on open communication and a concrete plan from the Alberta Premier, the Chief Medical Officer, and our elected officials,” concluded the letter. “We ask that these questions be answered with fact-based data so we can share your response with our fellow Albertans and make informed decisions about the future of our industry.”
Jamieson said the province has promised to provide at least a week’s notice for when restaurants can reopen for dine-in service. So far, that hasn’t happened.