A pedestrian wearing a mask checks his mobile device while waiting to cross a street in Calgary on Thursday, Nov. 19, 2020. Some Alberta businesses are taking matters into their own hands by implementing extra COVID-19 restrictions.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

Some Alberta businesses taking extra COVID-19 restrictions as cases surge

Some Alberta businesses taking extra COVID-19 restrictions as cases surge

EDMONTON — Owners of some Alberta shops and restaurants say they are not waiting for the provincial government to enforce stricter regulations and have taken matters into their own hands.

Juanita Roos is co-owner of Color De Vino in Edmonton’s trendy Whyte Avenue district. She is only allowing curbside pickup and delivery of the liquor store’s beer, wine and spirits.

Difficult customers who didn’t practise physical distancing and refused to wear masks often came into the store and it became impossible to monitor their behaviour, she said.

“My son-in-law is a diabetic, and we care for my father who’s 80 years old,” Roos said.

“A lady recently asked us at the door if we respected her choice to not wear a mask. They get frustrated, they get angry, because they have a personal belief. But our belief is they’re putting us at risk. If it was mandated, we would be protected.”

Alberta is the only province not to have a mask mandate, although some municipalities, including Edmonton and Calgary, have them.

On Monday, Alberta recorded 1,549 new infections — its fifth-straight day of more than 1,000 cases.

The United Conservative government recently ordered a ban on indoor group sports and fitness classes and earlier closing times for restaurants, bars and pubs. But many doctors have called for a larger shutdown of businesses and activities.

Chris Hewitt, owner of Dickens Pub in Calgary, decided earlier this month to proactively close his business for a few weeks to help curb the rise in cases.

“We have to spend our time going around telling people to put on their masks, to stay seated, to stop mingling, to keep their masks on while singing, to rush out the door so we can be closed by 11 p.m. sharp,” said a Facebook post from Hewitt.

“We nag and nag and nag. Then, as each night draws to a close, many people who have spent the night tolerating the health regulations just rush off to the nearest house party and I am left wondering how this will ever end.

“The economy is always a concern, but blundering through this the way we are, with people getting sick all over the place, is going to drag this out far longer than if we take quick, direct action.”

Calgary’s The Establishment Brewing Company also announced this month that it had closed its taproom and relaunched deliveries.

“This is not our ideal scenario but, in our minds, if we can prevent the spread at all, it’ll be worth it,” the brewery said in a tweet.

“Looking forward to lots of cheersing and high fives when this is all over.”

Kelly Dyer, manager of Audreys Books in downtown Edmonton, said the shop has not opened its doors since March and only offers curbside pickup and delivery of its books.

“As much as we miss people coming in and browsing — and we miss talking to people in-person about books — we couldn’t keep up to get the store ready or sanitized,” Dyer said.

“For other retail stores, businesses, it’s hard for them to operate closed. The longer they can stay open safely obviously is best for them. For us, we’re just grateful that we’ve actually managed to be able to keep going with our doors closed.”

Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson said Monday that he is hearing a desire from businesses for stricter regulations but is waiting for the province to take the next steps.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 23, 2020


This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship.

The Canadian Press