Relief, disappointment from business owners for Alberta's plan to relax restrictions

Businesses around Alberta have a mixed reaction to the province’s decision Friday to allow restaurants and to reopen for in-person dining service and fitness facilities to offer one-on-one training.  

Restaurants, pubs, can invite diners back Feb. 8, gyms open for 1-on-1 training

Alberta will soon allow trainers to work with clients one-on-one in indoor fitness facilities. (Josee St-Onge/CBC)

Businesses around Alberta were surprised, relieved and disappointed about the province's decision Friday to allow restaurants to reopen for in-dining service and fitness facilities to offer one-on-one training.

The Duck Taphouse and Grill, a pub food restaurant on 118th Avenue and 104th Street near NAIT campus, has remained open for take-out and delivery.  

Rosie Colangelo, a server at the restaurant for about a year and a half, said she feels both relief and reservation about reopening.

"I'm really looking forward to seeing our community, we have a very loyal following of customers that come in — people in the neighbourhood or students from NAIT, which we've been missing dearly."

Colangelo said she's extremely cautious, but doesn't want to see the restaurant shut down.  

"I'm very aware that the situation is very serious and I want to make sure that things are safe, and that things are opening securely."

Laura Truong, co-proprietor of T&D Vietnamese Noodle House on 118th Avenue, said she was surprised at the announcement Friday. 

"Everything is always so abrupt, I've felt with this whole pandemic — we never know when things are going to open." 

She'll likely keep her family-run restaurant doing take-out and delivery only for a while, even though they're generating about 40 per cent of what they made pre-pandemic. 

"Some days are good, some days are bad," she said. " It's so unpredictable."

Even before the pandemic, Truong focused on third-party delivery companies, which have been keeping the food moving.

This restaurant along 12 Avenue SW in Calgary posted a sign to let customers know they are open for takeout. (Helen Pike/CBC)

Truong said it's a big challenge to open at limited capacity and pay staff — a major portion of their expenses during table dining.

"We're just going to wait it out, see what happens, if we get the vaccine or not." 

Indoor fitness restrictions

The province's step 1 allows people to take fitness classes with a trainer, one-on-one only and by appointment. 

That means people can't just go to their fitness facility and jump on a treadmill or lift weights.

Jody Kyle, chief operating officer for YMCA Northern Alberta, said it's not feasible for their facility to reopen under the new rules.

"It was disappointing because it won't allow us to reopen," Kyle told CBC News. "We're a membership-based organization and most of what we do is individual, family, group activities, so one-on-one isn't the majority of what we do."

Kyle predicts it will be several weeks before the province eases restrictions further in step 2.

"It gives us a better sense of what to sort of plan for, although we don't exactly know the dates and the times," she said of the news Friday. "We're bigger than just fitness, we do day camps, we do rentals, we do group fitness, we do education." 

Alberta Health spokesperson Tom McMillan said trainers can help ensure everyone is following the guidelines. 

"Allowing individual workouts alone, unsupervised increases the likelihood of individuals mixing and mingling or not adhering to the other measures in place," McMillan wrote in an email. 

"Trainers will be accountable for ensuring that measures in place are followed, including masking and distancing."

McMillan said restaurant operators and staff are required to have measures in place to prevent guests at different tables from interacting. 



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