BOWDEN — Town of Bowden officials have implemented new measures to follow new COVID-19 restrictions announced by the provincial government on Nov. 24.
While the town office will remain open to the public, staff will be divided into two cohorts to reduce the risk of contracting COVID.
Starting Nov. 26, programming at the Igloo Arena has been suspended for three weeks.
After that, “we will evaluate our options,” chief administrative officer Greg Skotheim wrote in an email.
Skotheim noted that, as a municipality within Red Deer County, Bowden is following all the enhanced public health measures called for by Alberta Health Services (AHS).
As part of those protocols, town council passed a resolution recommending that masks be worn in all town-owned public facilities.
The town has also been providing masks, sign-in sheets and sanitizer at all of its facilities.
Premier Jason Kenney declared a state of public health emergency late last Tuesday afternoon.
Effective immediately, all indoor social gatherings are banned throughout Alberta.
Outdoor gatherings, weddings and funerals are all limited to 10 people. Receptions are prohibited.
People who live alone are allowed to have two non-household close contacts.
In enhanced status regions, in-person activities are banned in indoor playgrounds and all levels of sport (professional, semi-professional, junior, collegiate/universities and amateur). However, sports leagues may apply for exemptions.
Starting Nov. 27, event venues in enhanced-status regions will be closed for in-person business.
That group includes banquet halls, conference centres, trade shows, concert venues, community centres and indoor play spaces and grounds.
Retail and service business services in enhanced-status areas will be allowed to remain open but must restrict their capacity to 25 per cent or a minimum of five customers, whichever is higher.
Included in that group are grocery, pharmacy, clothing, technology, hardware and automotive stores.
Other businesses open by appointment only are not permitted to offer walk-in services. Appointments are to be limited to one-on-one services.
That applies to hair salons and barbershops, esthetics, manicure, pedicure, body waxing and make-up, piercing and tattoo services.
Also included in that group are wellness services such as acupuncture, massage and reflexology as well as professional services like lawyers, mediators, accountants and photographers, hotels, motels, hunting and fishing lodges.
Private one-on-one lessons also fall under this category. No private group lessons will be permitted.
Bars and restaurants can continue providing in-person dining but must comply with guidelines. Everyone sitting together must be part of same household.
As of Monday, Nov. 30 all students from grades 7 to 12 will be learning online from home for the rest of 2020. They'll return to in-person classes Jan. 11, after the winter break.
Diploma exams are optional for rest of the school year. Students and families can choose to write an exam or receive an exemption for the April, June and August 2021 exams.
Younger students and early childhood services will stay in schools until Dec. 18. Between Dec. 18 and Jan. 11, aside from the time they spend on their winter break, they will do at-home learning.
Skotheim is aware that some people in other jurisdictions have not reacted well to COVID restrictions – especially to wearing masks. One woman in B.C. reportedly even spat on an employee who asked her to wear a mask.
Skotheim said to his knowledge, nothing like that has happened in the Bowden so far.
“That was frightening,” he said during an interview.
“The public has been very cooperative in our facilities, including our town office.”
Skotheim was asked if the town has all the bases covered after Kenney’s latest list of restrictions were announced.
“No, I’d never say we’ve got everything covered because as you know, things could turn on a dime here – we could start having some real issues. But so far I think, we’re just doing our best,” he said.
“And we want to ensure the safety of the people of Bowden; just do whatever we can do to help.”