HYTHE, ALTA – Proof of vaccination has temporarily closed the restaurant at the Grand Marshal Inn in Hythe.
Hotel management say participating in the province’s Restrictions Exemption Program (REP) led to a severe drop in business.
The REP program requires patrons provide either proof of vaccination or a recent negative COVID test to dine in the restaurant.
Alexandre Zune, managing owner at the Grand Marshal Inn told Town & Country News the REP “doesn’t work, so we closed down.”
After a complaint was filed to Alberta Health Services (AHS) that the restaurant was not implementing mask-wearing, AHS informed hotel management it needed to either implement the REP or close the restaurant.
“People get mad, and they take it out on staff, and it’s super sad because it’s such a small community, and you can see it’s just dividing people,” said Sairah Chabot, assistant manager at the restaurant.
“It’s so disheartening.”
After requiring proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test, the restaurant served less than 10 customers in five days, said Zune.
“We decided to close the restaurant since I’m actually spending more money on staff than we are making.”
The closure has led to more layoffs; the third round of them since the pandemic started, said Zune. Other staffers have had their hours cut, he added. Cooks remain on staff to provide room service for hotel guests.
Zune said he is unsure of what the future looks like.
Having a restaurant in a small community already was difficult with a small pool of customers and a decline in industry traffic, he noted.
“You never know day to day what to expect,” she said.
She noted that booking reservations, planning events, or booking private functions are impossible “due to the ever-changing restrictions.”
“We just want to keep our staff employed, and we just wanted to keep things going, but that didn’t result in our favour,” she said.
The province announced the REP program on Sept. 16 after declaring a state of a public health emergency.
The program was to begin on September 20th to businesses who chose to implement it.