When Red Deer businesses reopen during the pandemic, it will largely fall to customers to report on whether provincial COVID-19 reduction guidelines are being followed.
The City of Red Deer will step in if business licences are being breached — such as through fire code violations — but health inspections are up to Alberta Health Services, said the city’s emergency operations centre director, Karen Mann.
“We are not responsible for inspections under the Environmental Health and Protection Act,” she said.
According to AHS, public complaints will continue to drive most COVID-related inspections at this time. As health inspectors can’t be everywhere at once, AHS states it will rely on customer complaints to spur most inspections and enforcement measures.
This means people who see that distancing protocols and other COVID-19 reduction measures aren’t being followed can let the province or AHS know about it. They could also bring it up with the business owner directly; it’s up to the complainant, states AHS.
A myriad of guidelines exist for reopening businesses under provincial pandemic health regulations.
The food and drink sector alone has a long list of protocols — from operating with half of the usual seating capacity, to allowing no more than six persons together at large tables, to installing barriers when tables cannot be separated by two metres.
Retail establishments must ensure workers can have protective equipment, if needed.
They must look at staggering staff arrival and departures, breaks and meetings to reduce crowds, and consider using arrows to guide customer flow through busy aisles, or mark where to stand at checkouts.
Hair salons and barber shops should encourage clients to wear masks, stagger appointments, and avoid sharing products and tools between work stations, among many precautions.
Alberta Health Services states that the first phase of business reopenings will be a work in progress: “As the pandemic evolves, we continually monitor the situation and incorporate new information to adjust our response,” based on the chief medical officer of health’s orders.
These include limiting gatherings to less than 15 people, ensuring physical distancing measures of two metres, regularly cleaning frequently touched surfaces and objects, and providing for adequate handwashing.
AHS will work with Alberta Health to “continue to support businesses and facilities that fall within our responsibilities under the Public Health Act.”
The Alberta Health Bizconnect website lists the various guidelines: www.alberta.ca/biz-connect.aspx.