Sports Indoor dining ban kickstarts Calgary temporary patio season
COVID-19 Update: 576 new cases, four deaths | AHS warns of 'small risk' of COVID-19 exposure at immunization site
With news on COVID-19 happening rapidly, we’ve created this page to bring you our latest stories and information on the outbreak in and around Calgary. What’s happening now Alberta reported Tuesday 576 new cases of COVID-19 on 8,078 tests and four additional deaths. There were 332 new variant cases. Those with certain underlying conditions are now eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine under Phase 2B of Alberta’s rollout. Alberta is following the recommendation of the NACI and is pausing administering the AstraZeneca vaccine to people under the age of 55. A second Joey restaurant location has temporarily closed due to COVID-19 cases amongst staff.
Calgary restaurants were already building up their patios to contend pandemic health rules when tighter restrictions were announced last week, giving them added incentive.
Last year, the City of Calgary responded to COVID-19 measures by allowing restaurant seating to spill onto the sidewalks. Pedestrians were rerouted onto the street to help expand seating capacity.
The province's new health restrictions — which went into effect Friday — ban indoor dining but allow seating patrons outdoors, which means patios are essential for Calgary's businesses.
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The NHL has decided to ere on the side of caution as a result of Adam Gaudette’s positive COVID-19 test. Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reports (Twitter link) that tonight’s game between the Canucks and Flames has been postponed. TSN’s Frank Seravalli tweets that the decision was made after more information has surfaced regarding Vancouver’s test results; that information obviously has not yet been made public.
Locking down again was a blow, Marda Loop Brewing Company owner Mike de Jonge said. But it was something he and others in the industry were bracing for — as they watched restrictions come down in British Columbia and Ontario.
In Alberta, he said, there was a silver lining: patios.
"It's our third time, and the back and forth is getting tough to deal with," de Jonge said. "I was actually optimistic and happy and relieved in a way when they said, 'Yeah, you're going to be closed on the inside, but we're going to allow you to have your patio.'"
De Jonge said setting up an extended patio means he has an extra 10 distanced picnic tables, so he can keep staff working through the third wave.
"It's a big value add and that's just for one small local business," de Jonge said. "I can only imagine what some of the larger establishments on 17th, 10th, and 8th are feeling right now. They're probably quite happy to have all those employees come back."
NHL postpones Canucks' next three games due to COVID
The NHL has postponed three more games for the Vancouver Canucks, shutting them down through April 6 after Travis Hamonic was added to the COVID protocol on Thursday. Hamonic joined Adam Gaudette, who has tested positive for coronavirus and a member of the team’s coaching staff. © Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports The NHL has shut down the Canucks through April 6. The league is hoping that the Canucks will be able to play on April 8 against the Calgary Flames, but games against the Edmonton Oilers and Winnipeg Jets in the coming days will have to be pushed. All practices have also been canceled for the time being.
Elaborate but temporary
There's a little competition happening between restaurants, JF Gingras said. He owns Dealtwith Contracting, a restaurant repair and maintenance company.
Last year, business owners were scrambling to slap patios together at the last minute. But this year, Gingras said he's had requests for affordable but more elaborate builds.
He thinks clients see this as a way to stand out and draw in patrons.
"With any good restaurant, you know, you get influenced by the look, the esthetics of the menu, the dining room," Gingras said. "They want to match what the effort that's been done inside and try to incorporate this outside, even though it's temporary."
The roads department is in full swing, installing the temporary patio infrastructure ramps and barriers so pedestrians can reroute around the businesses. Requests for patios started rolling in at the end of February, beginning of March.
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The city's Sonya Sharp said patio requests have surged, so the city added a queuing system to ensure those who requested their patio months ago are first in line to keep things fair.
"What we have to underline is just how much of a priority we've made this for our restaurant owners," said Sharp, who is the leader of the city's business and local economy team. "The City of Calgary planning and roads department, they really had to pivot and make sure that we got on top of the restrictions being changed on us very quickly and allowed this industry to continue to thrive during the third wave."
The high-visibility orange barriers are back, but Sharp noted that once the city deals with this influx of patio requests, it may look at planters and other ways to make the barriers a little more esthetically pleasing.
Last year, the city put up 116 patios. So far, this year's requests are at more than 140 patios with 60 or so already in place.
Fees for these temporary patios were waived again this year. The city will also waive fees for private patios.
Patio installations could finish by the end of April, depending on demand, Sharp said.
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