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Local owner suggests restaurants have little left to give

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A local restaurant owner says he is at a loss when it comes to where to go next. As of noon Friday, dine-in services in Alberta are off the table after the province tightened up COVID-19 restrictions in the face of quickly growing case counts.

Derek Moe, owner of Maddhatters, says the recent move back into Step 1 of COVID-19 restrictions simply piles more pressure on the restaurant industry that is already reeling from the past year.

“It’s frustrating as an industry to hear that goalposts keep changing where it goes from case counts to hospitalizations, to variants to now if we don’t have vaccines,” he says. “It’s just a blame game, and it’s hard to grow as an industry or any business, to know where to go, or what to do.”

Moe says, big picture, he believes people have a lot of optimism, but he admits that even with the help of municipal and provincial grants, optimism doesn’t pay the bills.

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“We are talking about the middle of April; how many people are truly going to sit outside when they weren’t coming inside to a nice warm building to start with,” he says. “People putting their heart and soul into their tasks all across this country, and you see fear in their eyes and uncertainty.”

Premier Jason Kenney announced the tighter restrictions early last week, with gyms reduced to one on one training only, and restaurants restricted to delivery or curbside pickup. Meanwhile, the city has waived fees for patio permit applications in an attempt to make it easier for businesses to build up their outdoor areas.

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