As some businesses adjust to new COVID-19 restrictions, the Red Deer & District Chamber of Commerce says most shops and services in the region have already taken a consistent and effective approach to the pandemic.
“As a chamber, we’ve really been impressed with the measures taken by the business community around central Alberta, whether it’s the Plexiglas barriers, businesses requiring masks, or limiting capacity,” said Reg Warkentin, the chamber’s advocacy manager.
“We see from the data that the rate of infections from businesses is actually very low, so we know that these are working.”
And he said businesses continue to take COVID very seriously, because they don’t want a second wave to shut everything down as Christmas approaches.
On Friday, restrictions were increased in communities such as Red Deer, which has a higher rate of COVID-19 infections. But the same restrictions do not apply to Red Deer County, including Gasoline Alley, and Sylvan Lake, where there are fewer cases.
Until Nov. 27, all restaurants, bars, lounges and pubs in regions under a so-called enhanced status have to end liquor sales by 10 p.m. and close by 11 p.m.
A ban is also in place for indoor group fitness classes, team sports and group performance activities.
Red Deer city council is now considering whether it should advocate for regional restrictions for greater consistency between nearby municipalities, given residents likely travel back and forth and interact regularly.
Warkentin said there’s no doubt that Red Deer customers will look to Gasoline Alley for services, but he said regional restrictions are tricky.
“We really want to encourage people to follow the recommendations of the chief medical officer of health. Obviously, a municipal boundary does not contain the virus. There has to be a level of common sense in how these restrictions are implemented.”
He said whatever happens, it should apply to all businesses equally to prevent the unfairness that happened in the spring, when small businesses had to shut down, while big box stores remained open.
“Any time something is patently unfair, it causes resentment. It creates an unfair playing field, which we just can’t have.”
He said interfering with people’s livelihoods, and their ability to provide for their families, causes incredible strain, including on their mental health.
“As a chamber of commerce, the last thing we want to see happen is to have our local businesses shut down and people buying more on Amazon. That’s not good for anyone in Alberta.”