Central Alberta small businesses hope the province doesn’t follow Ontario’s example in dealing with rising COVID-19 cases by ordering a second lockdown on restaurants and gyms.
“After what small businesses have battled through, it would be like getting kicked when you are laying down,” said Red Deer & District Chamber of Commerce CEO Rick More.
More has heard a lot of local concern expressed about what’s happening in Ontario, where there is at least a 28-day ban on indoor dining at restaurants and bars, as well as the closure of gyms and theatres.
Premier Doug Ford also severely ramped down gathering sizes as the number of new virus cases in the province was approaching 1,000 a day.
Only 10 people can now gather in Ontario at an indoor event (compared to a previous limit of 50) and 25 people can gather at an outdoor event or gathering (the previous limit was 100).
More believes Alberta would take a different approach. Alberta Premier Jason Kenny has repeatedly stated he does not want another lockdown.
But Alberta’s COVID-19 cases are increasing by more than 300 a day. As of Monday, central Alberta sat at 148 active cases, which is the lowest of all Alberta Health Services zones.
The responsibility for keeping the spread of COVID-19 down “is on all of us,” said More.
“Our businesses have done their part in protecting customers,” but people need to ensure they don’t go out when they are sick, or socialize in large numbers.
He believes it’s important for health officials to keep tracing where the spikes in cases are coming from, and not be “reactionary” by effectively punishing businesses while the virus is mostly spreading from large family gatherings, for example.
The situation in hospitals needs to be the primary concern: “Red Deer has been successful in keeping the numbers down. If the ICU was filling up, then they’d have to do something, but that is not the case,” added More.
The Red Deer & District Chamber of Commerce held its annual general meeting on Monday night, with the election of new officers.