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“Some of the (businesses) that have reopened are barely managing to stay afloat,” he said. “A return to Stage 1 … would be devastating for a lot of them.”
Alberta’s relaunch strategy was split into three stages, with the first beginning on May 14. This allowed for some reopenings of businesses and services such as clothing stores, barbershops and restaurants. Stage 2, which began on June 12, loosened restrictions even further by allowing movie theatres, community halls, indoor recreation and libraries to reopen and for in-class schooling to resume.
The province has yet to announce when Stage 3 will begin.
Pracejus said the impacts of having to go back to Stage 1 depends on the type of business.
“If something like hair salons, for example, if they’re required to close after they’ve already been required to close for quite some time, I’m sure that would have a pretty severe negative impact on a business like that,” he said.
Nick Lilley, interim executive director of the Downtown Business Association, said if the province has to bring the city back into Stage 1, businesses will at least have had the experience of going through the first wave.
“I think there’s a great foundation now having gone through some of this initial experience, which obviously put all businesses on notice that we are working within a new normal,” he said. “Having gone through that initial first wave really did demonstrate to a lot of businesses that they can do these things, they can adapt their services. Nobody wants to see a second wave, obviously, and yet, I think there is a growing body of evidence to support how to adjust the business accordingly and be as nimble and adaptive as possible.”
Lilley said some examples he’s seen of businesses adapting include creating more space to allow for people to physical distance such as knocking down walls or utilizing the extended patio area. Many businesses have also moved online to offer their services.
He said there’s a need to also look at the active cases optimistically especially if they start to trend downwards as that opens up more opportunities for businesses.