CALGARY -- Despite receiving closure orders from Alberta Health Services and even a mandatory court appearance from RCMP, some restaurants and cafes in central and southern Alberta continued to welcome guests on Saturday.

The move comes after the province announced on Friday dine-in services can resume with restrictions next Monday.

Corrina Fischer, manager of the Whistle Stop Café in Mirror, Alta., estimated more than 100 people had eaten there by mid-afternoon Saturday, and said they have no plans to stop serving diners.

"We are just needing our livelihood back, we have to feed our families and the risks when dining in a restaurant are (almost) nil. They won't even supply us with data to say the virus is spreading in restaurants," she said.

"So that's our main thing, we are standing up and opening because small businesses are going to die."

Mirror is about 210 kilometres north of Calgary.

Bashaw RCMP issued a court appearance notice at the café on Tuesday, dated for April 22 in Stettler, and Fischer said that won't deter them.

"We have great lawyers representing us, we know the legal system and it will be thrown out," she said.

Phased reopening announced

Premier Jason Kenney announced on Friday that health restrictions on restaurants, gyms, and kids activities will be partially lifted as part of a phased reopening plan dependent mainly on hospital admissions.

The announcement of Step 1 of the four-stage plan was triggered Thursday, the province said, when hospitalizations fell below 600, a benchmark first unveiled to the public by the premier on Friday afternoon.

Restaurants, cafes and pubs can resume in-person dining on Feb 8., a day after the Super Bowl, with a maximum of six people per table, all from the same household.

The business is required to collect the personal contact information of at least one member of the dining party, as part of the reopening. Liquor service is to end at 10 p.m. Dining can only go as late as 11 p.m.

'Very busy for the past three days'

The Whistle Stop wasn't the only eatery continuing to defy health orders on Saturday.

The Arcadia Café in Beiseker — about 75 kilometres northeast of Calgary — was also open for dine-in service, despite being given a closure order from AHS on Thursday.

The café was also open on Friday, when owner Joanne Diaz was issued a $1,200 ticket for violating the provincial health order.

"I'm hoping that I'm sending the message that small businesses need to stand up to the government," she said.

"How many of those guys have take a cut in pay? How many of those guys are worried about their mortgage? And it's not just the business owners, we employ people, most of the people who work here are moms who are subsidizing their incomes.

"And all these guys that sit and make the rules, how much money are they making every year? They've got their cushy little jobs with their benefits and their bonuses and they're telling everyone else to stay home meanwhile they're flying all over the place and going wherever they want to."

Diaz said the café was "pretty busy" on Saturday.

"We've been very busy for the past three days," she said.

The Mossleigh Bar and Grill was also handed a closure order by AHS on Tuesday after opening in defiance of the rules, however owner Cassie Rowse said they will now wait until Feb. 8 to reopen for dine-in.

"The whole message I wanted to get out to everyone was, there was no reason for restaurants not to be open because we could do it safely," she said.

"But we need to show we can do it safely and to me, if I hadn't of complied with the orders … we would have been getting mobs of people in and that's not the route we wanted to go. We just wanted to show, especially in the rural areas, we can definitely do this safely."

Rowse says the partial lifting of restrictions next week was the result of businesses defying the health orders.

"I like to think it was part of it, yes," she said.

Legal action possible

AHS issued a statement on Saturday, saying businesses that don't follow health orders "are at risk of closure orders or tickets issued by the police/municipal bylaw services."

"In some instances, legal action may be taken," read the statement.

"We acknowledge that these restrictions are challenging for some business owners. However, our healthcare system remains under significant pressure and we must ensure we take steps to reduce demand on our hospitals, by continuing to reduce the risk of transmission in the community."