Events such as the Downtown Red Deer Market remain in pandemic limbo, but Red Deerians are encouraged to visit their city centre as more businesses reopen.
“It’s going to be a really different summer downtown,” said Amanda Gould, executive director of the Red Deer Downtown Business Association.
“We’re only in stage one (of Alberta’s relaunch). We can’t have any gatherings. We can’t have any big, formal opening. We’re just going to have to do a gradual opening.”
On Monday, the province allowed dentists, physiotherapists and other medical professionals to reopen, as long as they follow approved guidelines set by their professional colleges.
A gradual reopening of retail businesses, such as clothing, furniture and bookstores, can begin on May 14.
As well, cafes and restaurants with no bar service will be allowed to run at half capacity. Personal services such as hairstyling and barber shops, along with museums and art galleries, can also open.
Gould said the association is focusing on putting together a big multi-media campaign to motivate people to simply visit the downtown, instead of waiting for a specific event.
“Don’t forget about the downtown. Your downtown really needs you right now. As things open up, we really hope to see you down there,” she said.
Gould has been the only association staff member on the job during the pandemic. Seventy-five per cent of staff were laid off for 90 days.
She said money not spent on staffing will be invested in the campaign. Costs will also be reduced with the cancellation of outdoor events.
“We’ve already made plans for savings in 2020, because obviously, we’ve realized the situation our businesses are in.”
Recently, Red Deer city council asked the association to use the portion of its 2020 budget not needed as a result of the pandemic towards financial incentives, support and relief for downtown businesses.