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Calgary, Brooks, selected from the provincial relaunch; Company gutted

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Kenney said both cities will move into a staggered reopening

Author of the article:

Alanna Smith

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May 14, 2020 • • May 14, 2020 • • Read for 5 minutes • • 113 comments James Caryk looks through the window of the closed Winners clothing store in downtown Calgary on Wednesday, May 13, 2020. Photo by Gavin Young / Postmedia

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Calgary and Brooks were singled out from Phase 1 of the province’s relaunch strategy as they are dealing with more active cases of COVID-19 than anywhere else in Alberta.

The decision was announced by Premier Jason Kenney on Wednesday, just hours before companies anticipate reopening. He said plans go forward to ease restrictions on the rest of Alberta, where certain places like restaurants, retail stores, hair salons, day care centers and some dental and medical services will be back on stream Thursday.

“Today I am pleased to announce that, thanks to your efforts, we are continuing the first phase of Alberta’s relaunch strategy,” said Kenney on Wednesday, along with Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer of Health.

“On the advice of our health authorities, we will be taking a step-by-step regional approach to reopening certain activities that require greater physical proximity. Dr. Hinshaw has marked two specific areas – Calgary and Brooks – where we continue to see a disproportionate number of cases. Together, they account for three quarters of our current cases of COVID-19 and hospitalizations. “


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Kenney said both cities will move into a staggered reopening. From Thursday, retail stores, farmers markets, museums and art galleries are allowed to reopen in line with the rest of the province.

Hair salons, cafes, restaurants and bars are only allowed to be 50 percent open on May 25th. The remainder of the Level 1 openings, including day camps, summer school, post-secondary facilities, and places of worship, will be open to reopening June 1st in Calgary and Brooks.

“Dr. Hinshaw and her colleagues are concerned that there are still significantly more cases of community transmission from unknown sources in Calgary and Brooks compared to the rest of the province,” said Kenney Allow a little more time to monitor trends in these communities. Be safe rather than embarrassed. “

Health officials had warned the province could drop a blanket relaunch and apply it regionally to postpone the economic opening of areas more severely affected by the potentially deadly virus.

The final decision was made on Tuesday evening during the Emergency Management Cabinet meeting in Alberta. Kenney and Hinshaw said the decision was made with the most recent data and it was difficult to give the lead time.

“As we move into the first phase, I know that many have mixed feelings – relief, excitement, anger, fear, and fear,” Hinshaw said.

“I would like to assure you that the protection of the health and well-being of Albertans is paramount in every decision made. We wouldn’t jeopardize everything you risked and sacrificed by starting reopening prematurely. I am confident that it is the right time to start phase 1. “


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Hundreds of Calgary companies had already begun plans for a relaunch on Thursday, while others were more cautious with concerns about employee and customer safety.

Wednesday’s announcement gutted some hired workers and stocked up on supplies.

“It’s deflated in the sense that it’s 24 hours in advance. That’s the biggest thing that’s frustrating for our entire team, ”said Casey Greabeiel, director of operations at downtown Greta Bar.

“We spent a lot of time, energy and money on PPE (personal protective equipment), Plexiglas and all these things. We brought product. We brought inventory. So it’s a frustrating announcement, but at the same time, the health and safety of our employees and our guests is our number one priority. “

Casey Greabeiel poses for a picture at the Greta Bar, which will be closed during the pandemic on Monday April 27, 2020. Casey Greabeiel poses for a picture at the Greta Bar, which will be closed during the pandemic on Monday April 27, 2020. Photo by Azin Ghaffari / Postmedia

Greabeiel said they had put about 25 percent of their workers on hold. After the announcement, management shared the news with their team and delayed the hiring until the new launch date.

“A 24-hour notice period in the hospitality industry is not enough when it comes to perishable food and personnel,” he added. “Let’s say 30 percent of the city opened restaurants and bars on Thursday. That’s thousands of people who probably thought they were going to work.”

This could also affect government support for individuals who have access to the Canada Emergency Response Benefit and Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy programs.

Greta hopes that pickup and delivery options will help get rid of the food supply.

Ervin Bushi, owner of Broken Plate Greek Restaurant YYC, said his business was under financial strain.

“We have stocked up on everything that can be opened,” said Bushi. “We’ve hired most of our people back and now we’re trying to keep them busy.”

He said they are hoping to get rid of their inventory with takeaway orders but are concerned that despite the new May 25 date, more changes may be made to the relaunch schedule.

“You have awakened people’s hopes. If our numbers aren’t good for Calgary, we understand, but it’s better to just let us know, ”said Bushi. “More time would have been a lot better.”

The restaurant had prepared itself by adding signage, installing plexiglass signs, laminating menus, increasing hygiene and thoroughly cleaning the room.

Both Kenney and Hinshaw expressed their condolences to companies that had planned to reopen, but said there was always an opportunity for change.

“I very much regret that a company has cost money, but we made it clear when we sketched the relaunch strategy a few weeks ago that nothing was certain. It would all depend on the numbers and public health advice we get, ”Kenney said.

“The good news is that we now have a clearer framework.”


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Calgary’s neighboring cities, including Airdrie, Okotoks and Chestermere, will be dedicated to the entire Phase 1 reopening on Thursday. There are no legal restrictions against Calgarians visiting these communities, but Hinshaw urges people to avoid unnecessary travel.

High River may also ease restrictions Thursday, despite the largest outbreak in a single facility in the country at Cargill’s meat processing facility.

Hinshaw said the number of active cases in the community is not significantly higher than in the rest of the province – unlike Calgary and Brooks – so there is no need to delay reopening based on data.

The Alberta government has issued guidelines for workplaces that will be included in the first phase of the relaunch strategy.

It provides information on improved measures to prevent and control infection, resources and occupational health and safety criteria that must be followed to adequately reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission. You must adhere to physical distancing practices and the appropriate use of personal protective equipment.

The earliest Phase 2 that will go into effect is June 19 and depends on the status of COVID-19 in the province. This includes reopening K-12 schools, certain personal services like tanning, some larger gatherings, movie theaters, and additional scheduled surgeries.

To date, there have been 6,407 COVID-19 cases in Alberta – 4,375 of them in the Calgary Zone. There are currently 70 people in the hospital and 11 in the intensive care unit.

Two more deaths were announced on Wednesday, bringing the death toll in the province to 120.


Twitter: @alanna_smithh

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