As much of the province’s hospitality industry tries to implement the Alberta government’s restrictions exemption program, some rural restaurants are being hit hard.
Not only are they facing open criticism and harassment, but sales have also been impacted.
Jen Frick is one of several people who stopped in for lunch at Cilantro and Chive in Lacombe and needed to show her COVID-19 immunization record card and ID to get in.
The restaurant is one of several rural Alberta businesses implementing the provincial government’s restrictions exemption program.
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“Over the last couple of days, I’ve shown it at three different places. I have screenshotted it on my phone, bring out my ID. It’s no big deal,” Frick said.
But not everyone sees it this way.
“We’ve had a couple of incidents at the door, just making sure that we are checking IDs, and unfortunately, we were not able to look after them,” Cilantro and Chive co-owner Rieley Key said.
Kay said the backlash of implementing this program hasn’t stopped there.
“The most negative feedback we’ve got has been online, on the phone or through the mail. It’s people that aren’t coming through our doors,” Kay said.
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The president of the Alberta Hospitality Association said negative feedback has been coming in from all over the province but seems to be popping up more in rural areas.
“Some have been receiving some pretty heavy harassments from guests that feel that it’s restaurants that have put this program in place when it’s been mandated by the government,” AHA president Ernie Tsu said.
Kay said many people just don’t understand it.
“[We have] lots of people calling in, asking us what we are doing, how we are doing it and trying to better understand exactly what the requirements are,” Kay said.
Kay said the overall impact on business has been crushing.
He said sales at his Lacombe restaurant are down 40 per cent and down 55 per cent at his Red Deer location.
“It’s tough. It’s tough on morale. It’s tough on our psyche,” Kay said.
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Kay said he wants people to know they are doing this to keep customers and staff safe — a position Frick understands and hopes others will too.
“Be kind to people out in the service industry that are enforcing the restrictions, and be kind to your health-care workers. They’ve dealt with so much throughout the last two years, and we just really need to support them,” Frick said.
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