BOWDEN — Mayor Robb Stuart knows the new COVID-19 restrictions announced by Premier Jason Kenney May 4 will be hard for the town's citizens and businesses to deal with, but he says the government had little choice, given skyrocketing caseloads in the province.
“I agree, the counts are going crazy, the hospitals are getting over-run and I think he has to do something,” Stuart said during an interview the day after new restrictions were announced.
“Once again, I sympathize with the business owners, but I think we have to lock things down and do the best we can. I know I’m a lot more cautious now than I was.”
Kenney said capacity at retail shops will be reduced to no more than 10 per cent of customer capacity.
Starting May 9 at midnight, restaurants and bars can no longer be allowed to keep patios open, and can only provide take-out and delivery.
Also starting May 9, personal services like hair salons, tattoo studios, tanning salons and nail salons were forced to close for three weeks.
In addition, places of worship are limited to 15 people — instead of 15 per cent capacity — while the maximum attendance at funerals will be reduced to 10 people.
The maximum number of people allowed at outdoor gatherings has been lowered from 10 to five and Kenney strongly recommended that gatherings be limited to only two family cohorts.
Beginning May 9, outdoor sports and recreation are limited to household and close contacts only. Youth and adult performances will not be allowed. Wedding and funeral receptions are not permitted.
Attendance at weddings is limited to a maximum of 10 people maximum. Attendance at funerals is limited to a maximum of 20 people. Masking is mandatory and people are required to maintain two-metre physical distancing between households.
Also, all kindergarten to Grade 12 students have gone back to learning at home until at least May 25. Post-secondary classes will go back online as well.
However, students with disabilities who need to continue to attend classes in-person will be exempt from that rule.
Stuart figures three restaurants in Bowden will be affected by the new rules: the A & W, the Starlite diner and a Chinese restaurant at the golf course.
He says they’ve all done takeout when those were the rules in the past so he imagines they’ll be able to do that again. The diner did set out some tables when patios were allowed.
He says most Bowden residents that he’s observed have followed the rules, as have local businesses, so he’s pretty confident they will be able to follow the new restrictions.
“Like, 90 per cent of the people I see wear masks when they go into any stores or the post office,” he said. “Even at the golf course I see people wearing masks when they’re standing outside there sometimes.”
More and more residents appear to be getting frustrated with the restrictions and he understands how they feel, he said.
But he’s hopeful that if people continue to follow them and more and more are vaccinated the pandemic will end that much faster, he said.
“I just hope that we can lock it down for a short term only,” he said.