Cal­gary bars, eater­ies, hair sa­lons get go-ahead

Ken­ney con­tin­ues to urge pre­cau­tions, say­ing ‘we’re not out of the woods yet’

Edmonton Journal - - CITY - SAMMY HUDES shudes@post­media.com Twit­ter: @Sam­my­hudes

Cal­gary restau­rants and hair sa­lons have re­ceived the green light to open their doors on Mon­day as Al­berta’s eco­nomic re­launch con­tin­ues.

Pre­mier Ja­son Ken­ney an­nounced Fri­day that dine-in ser­vice — at 50 per cent ca­pac­ity — can pro­ceed next week at eater­ies and bars in both Cal­gary and Brooks. Hair stylists and bar­ber­shops can also re­sume of­fer­ing their ser­vices af­ter be­ing forced to shut their doors due to the pan­demic.

Those types of busi­nesses through­out the rest of the province got the go-ahead to re­open on May 14, as Al­berta en­tered the first stage of its eco­nomic re­launch.

But there was a longer wait in Cal­gary and Brooks, as those cities were held back due to higher lev­els of ac­tive COVID-19 cases and hos­pi­tal­iza­tions.

The pre­mier said the de­ci­sion to pro­ceed with the next phase in those com­mu­ni­ties came on the ad­vice of chief med­i­cal of­fi­cer of health Dr. Deena Hin­shaw, fol­low­ing pos­i­tive trends in case num­bers and hos­pi­tal­iza­tions over the past week.

“While this is pos­i­tive news for many, it doesn’t mean that we’re out of the woods yet,” said Ken­ney, who held a news con­fer­ence in Cal­gary on Fri­day morn­ing. “COVID-19 still poses a very real risk. We must all con­tinue to act re­spon­si­bly and look out for one an­other.”

As of Fri­day, 134 Al­ber­tans in­fected by COVID-19 had died, in­clud­ing 97 from the Cal­gary area.

“That num­ber is still likely to rise over the weeks to come,” Ken­ney said. “This is why we must con­tinue to prac­tise phys­i­cal dis­tanc­ing and en­hanced hy­giene, to wear masks in ar­eas where we can­not be phys­i­cally dis­tanced from oth­ers and to just take care, es­pe­cially, for the most vul­ner­a­ble.”

In Al­berta Health Ser­vices’ Cal­gary zone, 3,912 peo­ple have re­cov­ered from the coro­n­avirus. But 689 ac­tive cases re­main.

That in­cludes 45 peo­ple in the Cal­gary zone who have been hos­pi­tal­ized, of whom five are re­ceiv­ing treat­ment in in­ten­sive care.

But Ken­ney said it was un­likely the province would man­date peo­ple to wear masks in public, adding he trusted Al­ber­tans “to ex­er­cise per­sonal re­spon­si­bil­ity.”

He said the province has or­dered 40 mil­lion non-sur­gi­cal masks, half of which ar­rived Thurs­day night, and plans to dis­trib­ute them to com­mu­nity in­sti­tu­tions, home­less shel­ters and char­i­ties.

Ken­ney also an­nounced that day camps, in­clud­ing sum­mer schools, will be per­mit­ted to open in Cal­gary and Brooks start­ing June 1, with lim­its on oc­cu­pancy.

Post-sec­ondary in­sti­tu­tions, places of wor­ship and funeral homes will also be able to open their doors, with cer­tain con­di­tions.

Cal­gary re­tail busi­nesses, farm­ers’ mar­kets, mu­se­ums and art gal­leries were al­lowed to re­open last week, con­sis­tent with the rest of the province.

The pre­mier said it would take time for things to re­turn to nor­mal, but that Al­berta was “on the right track.”

He also ex­pressed con­fi­dence that Al­berta would en­ter Stage 2 of its re­launch by the June 19 tar­get date.

That stage would in­clude the po­ten­tial open­ing of K-12 schools, li­braries, the­atres, mas­sage par­lours and other per­sonal ser­vices.

Reach­ing the next phase would de­pend on fac­tors such as the num­ber of coro­n­avirus cases, out­breaks and be­ing able to limit po­ten­tial surges in hos­pi­tal­iza­tions.

But Ken­ney noted there has been no sign else­where in Al­berta that re­open­ing restau­rants, hair sa­lons or re­tail busi­nesses has led to an uptick in COVID-19 cases thus far.

He said there were “vir­tu­ally no new cases hap­pen­ing ” most places out­side of Cal­gary.

“We’ve had the light­est touch in terms of public health re­stric­tions in Canada and al­most the light­est re­stric­tions in the world, and yet we’ve had one of the best public health out­comes,” Ken­ney said.

Derek Mi­ha­lik, owner of Star­belly Open Kitchen & Lounge in Cal­gary’s south­east, breathed a sigh of re­lief when he heard the province’s an­nounce­ment on Fri­day.

He said the res­tau­rant plans to open Tues­day, tak­ing an ex­tra day than needed, hav­ing pre­pared for sim­i­lar un­cer­tainty that last week brought.

Mi­ha­lik and his staff had orig­i­nally been set to open May 14, with thou­sands of dol­lars’ worth of fresh pro­duce and sup­plies pur­chased, only to find out the pre­vi­ous af­ter­noon of the de­lay for Cal­gary.

“We feel com­fort­able, we feel safe and ready for Tues­day, for our staff and cus­tomers,” he said.

“But there is still that con­cern. What does the fu­ture look like now? Our rent and ev­ery­thing is based on 100 per cent ca­pac­ity, and a 50 per cent world re­ally is the un­known.”

Joe Ceci, the NDP op­po­si­tion’s mu­nic­i­pal af­fairs critic, called on the UCP gov­ern­ment to re­im­burse restau­rants that lost money due to the de­lay af­ter be­ing “blind­sided” by Ken­ney.

“Restau­rants were ready for the re­launch and had the rug pulled out from un­der them at the last minute,” said Ceci, the MLA for Cal­gary-buf­falo.

More than one-third of Al­berta busi­ness own­ers are hes­i­tant to fully re­open due to con­cerns about po­ten­tial short­ages of per­sonal pro­tec­tive equip­ment, such as masks, gloves and hand san­i­tizer, ac­cord­ing to a sur­vey this week by the Cana­dian Fed­er­a­tion of In­de­pen­dent Busi­ness.

Josh Tay­lor, owner of No­to­ri­ous Hair Salon in In­gle­wood, said sta­tions have been di­vided and the space “has been san­i­tized head to toe” to be ready to open Mon­day.

With a fully booked sched­ule un­til early June, Tay­lor said he’s itch­ing to get back to “nor­mal­ity.”

“It was chaotic,” he said of hav­ing to de­lay ap­point­ments booked for the past week.

AL CHAREST

Pre­mier Ja­son Ken­ney, with pro­vin­cial Health Min­is­ter Tyler Shan­dro be­hind him, said Fri­day, “COVID-19 still poses a very real risk. We must all con­tinue to act re­spon­si­bly.”

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