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Municipal leaders applaud first stage reopening plans

Local politicians are voicing support for the planned first stage of the province’s economic re-launch, which could occur as early as May 14.

Local politicians are voicing support for the planned first stage of the province’s economic re-launch, which could occur as early as May 14.

The province announced last week that the initial reopening would allow some businesses and services to reopen and resume operations with two metre physical distancing requirements and other public health restrictions remaining in place.

Non-essential businesses had been ordered closed in March as part of the province’s COVID-19 pandemic response.

Under the first stage of the reopening, retail businesses permitted to resume operations including clothing, furniture and bookstores, hairstyling and barber shops, museums and art galleries, daycares with limits on occupancy, cafes and restaurants with no bar service and seating limited to 50 per cent capacity.

Didsbury mayor Rhonda Hunter says the planned first stage of reopening is certainly welcome.

“It’s so important for our businesses," said Hunter. "I admire so much for what they are doing and I give them a big shout-out. It’s been inspiring to watch them,”

Residents and visitors should be encouraged to keep up with social distancing going forward, she said.

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Innisfail mayor Jim Romane said the provincial announcement was good news as the town can finally get back to “some normality”.

“And we can get back to real life again. I think this is a wise move in that (provincial officials) are not jumping into it too quickly here,” said Romane, adding town staff will now examine over the next week whether it should start reopening some local facilities.

“We are going to start the process on what next to open, whether it is the skateboard park, for example, an impact study of each and every one (facilities) will have to be done, and if we open it this is what we will have to do, like people and supervisors in place, at least for the first while.”

Penhold mayor Mike Yargeau said the province has unveiled a “good plan” and is “excited for local retail businesses who have been struggling during the COVID-19 crisis.

“Hopefully this can help them get a bit of their business back, and I still think it’s important we are still following the social distancing protocols. In Penhold we are still going to be stressing that.”

Under the first stage of the reopening, the physical distancing requirement remains at two metres, public gathering must be 15 persons or less, the use of masks is encouraged and non-essential travel is not recommended. Isolation and quarantine protocols will remain in place.