CALGARY (660 NEWS) – Frustration and anxieties are high for those in Alberta’s hospitality sector.
The province’s restaurant and bar owners are displeased current health restrictions barring them from offering in-person dining are not being relaxed.
Last month, the UCP government announced a new batch of health measures would be in place until at least Jan. 21, which was Thursday.
That day has come and gone and Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw said it is too early to consider lifting those restrictions as case counts and hospitalizations are still high.
WATCH: Alberta’s COVID-19 measures to stay in place
Ernie Tsu with the Alberta Hospitality Association points out February is just days away and the bills are piling up.
“If we’re going to be closed for a longer duration of time then, like Ontario and Quebec, our provincial government needs to step forward with more financial aid until the hospitality industry can get back up and open.”
Tsu said that the association had a meeting with Alberta Health on Thursday but he left feeling discouraged as health officials didn’t point to any data supporting their decision to keep restaurants shut down.
“We’ve been adamant with the government that, even if it’s worst-case scenario, then restaurant owners and entrepreneurs can plan around that worst-case scenario date,” said Tsu. “Better yet, give our industry the data as to why there is no date set as of yet.”
A survey of small business owners released Thursday, showed about 181,000 are seriously contemplating permanently closing. That number appears to be higher in Alberta with 22 per cent fearing they will close permanently due to back-and-forth shutdowns.
On Monday, the provincial government relaxed restrictions for personal care services such as salons and tattoo parlours allowing them to reopen by appointment only.
However, that still leaves restaurants and fitness facilities closed for the time being.
“It’d be fine if there was a timeline set out as to when we might look at a date of opening,” said Tsu. “Restaurant owners are frustrated, they’re angry and more importantly, the anxiety levels are building up.”
The latest COVID-19 update on Thursday saw cases grow by 678 with 16 new deaths.
Over 700 Albertans are in hospital with COVID-19 with 119 in intensive care.