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COVID reboots havoc on local businesses

Innisfail restaurants making challenging health-related decisions, even without provincial orders

INNISFAIL – The rising number of delta variant COVID cases has closed one local restaurant business due to a staff member’s positive case and convinced another to just shut down because it’s in the community’s best interest.

And there’s another restaurant owner who is now considering doing the same, even without being forced by the province, if that should ever come.

On Sept. 9, Boots and Barrels Restaurant and Bar on Main Street announced on Facebook that the business was closing until further notice.

“Due to the high rise in Covid cases in our community and the new restrictions in place by the government, we feel it is in everyone’s best interest to take a break and see how this situation unfolds,” the Facebook post said.

This decision was not an easy one to make, but one we felt necessary for the well-being of our staff and community.

“Once the government provides more updates on restrictions/lockdowns, we will re-evaluate our situation.”

The Albertan attempted to get additional comment from the owner at his restaurant but he declined. A sign was posted on the restaurant’s front door saying there would be further social media updates.

East of the Boots and Barrels location on Main Street near Hwy. 2A, there is a sign on the door of the local A&W fast food restaurant stating it was closed due to a positive COVID case with a staff member.

“As a precaution, we have decided to close our restaurant to complete a thorough cleaning, sanitizing and disinfecting process and are following the guidance of the public health authority,” said the A&W notice, adding the restaurant would open as soon as it is safe to do so for guests and employees.

Meanwhile, the COVID cases impacting local businesses has caught the attention of the owners of The Coffee Cottage, a restaurant that voluntarily closed their in-house dining areas between the second and third waves of the pandemic, despite not being required to do so.

That decision, said co-owner Dale Dunham, was made because he and partner Shaun Steen did not want to put their staff and themselves at risk, as well as wanting to do their best to keep the community safe.

“That has always been a big thing for us,” said Dunham, adding he and Steen are considering another self-imposed closure of dining areas should the current escalation of delta variant-driven COVID cases continue.

He said it was believed the pandemic-related update by the province on Sept. 6 would include tough new business restrictions, including those for in-house dining, but none were brought forward.

“Obviously they didn’t but it is something we have talked about,” said Dunham. “We are not at a point yet where we are going to do it ourselves. We are still waiting for some direction from the government. Unfortunately, the direction we are seeing isn’t instilling much confidence in us.”

He said the situation would be talked about last weekend as they have many staff members to support, as well as their families.
“But ultimately it comes down to keeping each other safe, and that will ultimately be the decision-maker for us. Right now, they are talking about the numbers (positive cases) being bigger than at the third (wave),” he said.

Dunham also noted the weather has remained good, which has allowed many patrons to eat outside with take-away dishes. He added take-away food orders represents about 80 per cent of their business.


Johnnie Bachusky

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