EDMONTON -- A 12-day celebration of restaurants in the downtown area has returned to give the struggling industry a boost.

Downtown Dining Week was cut short in March due to the pandemic, but the Downtown Business Association (DBA) decided it was time to bring it back.

“We appreciate that our restaurant industry is in need of our support,” said Nick Lilley with the DBA.

There are 40 restaurants participating in the event, many offering vegan or gluten-free options.

“They’re all unique menus that have been crafted for Downtown Dining Week, so it’s a chance to get a taste of some of the incredible culinary talent that we have here in our downtown,” Lilley said.

Many of the participating restaurants are small businesses that have been hit hard by the pandemic, according to the DBA.

“For us, success at this moment isn’t about growth, it’s about being able to keep the lights on,” said Ariel Del Rosario, owner of Filistix.

The Filipino restaurant was one of the participants in March’s Downtown Dining Week.

“Within 48 hours the narrative shifted 180 degrees.”

Del Rosario said that business has been slow, even with the take-out and deliveries he has been doing by himself.

But the return of Downtown Dining Week is already providing a boost to business.

“I just started filling in our reservations board, which we haven’t used in the past five, six months here,” Del Rosario said.

The event comes as COVID-19 case numbers in Edmonton are higher than they were in March.

Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said that restaurants have proven to be fairly low risk locations for COVID-19 infections so far.

“There has only been one outbreak linked to a restaurant in the past two weeks, and less than one percent of active cases in Edmonton and Calgary are linked to exposures in restaurants,” Hinshaw said.

With files from CTV News Edmonton's Jeremy Thompson