Calgary, Brooks to learn Friday if restaurants, hair salons can reopen

Calgary, Brooks to learn Friday if restaurants, hair salons can reopen

EDMONTON — Alberta Premier Jason Kenney says Calgary and the city of Brooks will get a lot more advance notice this time around on opening up their economies during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Kenney says a decision will be made and announced Friday on whether those two communities will be allowed to reopen restaurants and hair salons on Monday as proposed.

Kenney’s government was criticized when restaurant and hair shop owners expecting to open last Thursday in those cities were told with 18 hours notice that they would not get that permission.

Restaurants and hair salons were allowed to reopen throughout the rest of the province, along with retailers and daycares.

“I very much regret that more notice was not given,” Kenney told reporters Tuesday.

“I was expecting us to be able to proceed provincewide based on the indications I had received and based on the direction of the data, but (chief medical officer of health) Dr. (Deena) Hinshaw came to us with this advice.”

Kenney said they got that advice Tuesday night, worked out the logistics Wednesday morning and announced it that afternoon.

By then, a number of hair salons and restaurants in Calgary and Brooks had planned to reopen, purchasing supplies and rehiring staff.

“I subsequently met with Dr. Hinshaw and said, ‘Look we’ve got to make sure that doesn’t happen again. If for any reason there’s a recommendation from the public health authorities not to proceed, we’ve got to able to give people an indication of that with enough lead time to plan.’

“That’s absolutely legitimate and I understand why people are upset.”

The Opposition NDP said the announcement reflects a pattern of haste and poor preparation by Kenney’s United Conservative government, noting that health guidelines on how specific businesses can reopen were not published until three days before Thursday’s start date.

Calgary and Brooks have the vast majority of COVID cases in Alberta, and Hinshaw has said she wanted to go slower in those two areas to monitor the data to prevent another spike in infections as has been seen in other jurisdictions, such as the U.S. state of Alabama.

Calgary is Alberta’s largest city, while Brooks, in the province’s southeast, has a population of about 15,000. It’s home to the JBS slaughterhouse, where there has been a large outbreak of COVID-19.

Thursday’s reopening came with health restrictions. Restaurants, for example, can open only at half capacity to reduce the spread of the disease.

The maximum number for outdoor public gatherings also increased to 50 people from 15.

On Tuesday, Hinshaw reported Alberta has 1,004 active cases, with 61 people in hospital. There have been 127 deaths.

The case numbers look promising for Calgary and Brooks to reopen as expected, she said, adding the average incubation period is in the five-to-eight day range.

“This week is going to be critical … but certainly the numbers to date have been good,” said Hinshaw.

Alberta is reopening its economy in stages, as case counts show the province is flattening the curve on COVID-19. Barring new outbreaks, the next phase will happen on June 19, with movie theatres and spas allowed to resume.

Part of Alberta’s economic recovery may come from the National Hockey League.

The league suspended its season in February and is now eyeing a format to complete it with an improvised playoff scenario. One possibility is a tournament of 24 teams spread over two hub cities.

Kenney said he is working with the Edmonton Oilers on a proposal to be a host city and expects to be discussing the issue later this week with NHL commissioner Gary Bettman.

He said Edmonton would be a prime location, given it has low COVID numbers and a new downtown rink with a hotel attached to provide an isolation safe zone for players.

“I think we’ve got a tremendous pitch to make,” said Kenney.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 19, 2020.

Dean Bennett, The Canadian Press

Calgary

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Wm E Hay Stettler Secondary Campus staff continue ‘virtual’ connections with students

Plans for celebrating this year’s graduates are also taking shape

One name that cannot go uncredited when it comes to the area’s early construction days is John Backstrom

In 1904, the Backstrom clan came to what would soon be considered the Stettler area

City of Red Deer down to one confirmed active case of COVID-19

18 new cases were confirmed across the province Saturday

VIDEO: Procession to honour Snowbirds Capt. Jennifer Casey comes to Halifax

Snowbirds service member died in a crash in Kamloops one week ago

44% fewer passengers flew on Canadian airlines in March 2020 than in 2019

COVID-19 pandemic has hit airlines hard as travel remains low

Wetaskiwin RCMP arrest impaired driver following police car ramming

The suspect vehicle purposefully crashed into a parked police vehicle, pushing it into the ditch.

N.S. fire crews continue battling ‘out-of-control’ Porters Lake blaze

Word of the fire first emerged early Saturday afternoon

Technology, representation butt heads amid debate over resuming Parliament

The Liberals are now proposing four meetings a week until June 17

Most Read