OLDS — The fact that more businesses can reopen a week earlier than planned and that some are even moved up from the Stage 3 reopening is great news, according to Olds & District Chamber of commerce president Clare Janitz.
On Tuesday, June 9, the provincial government announced that several Stage 2 businesses could reopen as of June 12 instead of the originally scheduled date of June 19.
Those businesses include wellness services such as massage, acupuncture and reflexology as well as personal services, including esthetics, cosmetic skin and body treatments, manicures, pedicures, waxing, facial treatment and artificial tanning.
Cinemas and theatres can also reopen.
Some businesses originally slated to reopen under Stage 3 — including indoor fitness and recreation centres, gyms, arenas and recreational swimming pools as well as organized sports — will be allowed to reopen this Friday as well.
Up to 50 people will be allowed to attend indoor social gatherings, including wedding and funeral receptions, as well as birthday parties.
Up to 100 people will be allowed to attend outdoor events and indoor seated events such as wedding and funeral ceremonies.
In a news conference, Premier Jason Kenney said the government was able to move up opening dates for those businesses and activities because as of June 8, there were only 355 active cases and 44 people in hospital across the province, a decrease of almost 70 per cent in active cases since May 14, when Stage 1 of the relaunch strategy began.
“It’s great news that they have moved up Stage 2 to begin this Friday,” Janitz wrote in an email.
“Central Alberta and Olds, in particular, have fared really well through the pandemic as far as the number of cases, and I think that has given residents the confidence to venture out and start to resume some normal activities.
“This is great news for local businesses, as I believe people will tend to shop more locally rather than venture to the larger centres where they had a much higher level of COVID-19 cases.”
Janitz was asked if she thought it might be too soon for some of these businesses to reopen.
She didn’t think so.
“I don't think it’s too soon,” she wrote. “Some businesses may choose to delay opening if they are not prepared with sufficient staffing, PPE (personal protective equipment like masks, gowns and gloves) and don't have the necessary processes in place. But at least they have the opportunity to open.”
Some concern has been expressed that staff and customers might not yet be ready to come back into businesses.
Janitz wasn’t so sure about that.
“There may be more concern about the long term economic impact, as deferred payments start to add up and programs like CERB (the Canada Emergency Response Benefit) end and the jobs don't materialize,” she wrote.
• COVID-19 UPDATE: Follow our COVID-19 special section and interactive map for the latest local and national news on the coronavirus pandemic, as well as resources, FAQs and more.