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Alberta releases business guides for COVID-19 reopening plan

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On Monday, the province released online guides to help businesses plan for Stage 1 of Alberta’s COVID-19 relaunch.

Alberta Biz Connect will allow business owners to access information on health and safety guidelines for both general workplaces as well as sector-specific guidelines.

The new guidelines were announced during the daily COVID-19 update for the province. 

“I know the idea of relaunching our economy evokes strong emotions in many of us,” said Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw.

“Some are eager to move forward and feel we are going too slowly. Others are worried we are moving too fast. There are as many opinions on this as there are Albertans.”

“We expect businesses to follow these safety measures so that we can continue to reopen our economy while protecting the health and safety of all Albertans,” said Tanya Fir, Alberta’s minister of economic development, trade and tourism.

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There are separate guidelines listed for restaurants, places of worship, hair salons and barbers, and other businesses set to reopen during Stage 1.

Businesses had previously been pushing the government for more extensive guidelines ahead of reopening.

For example, the province says for restaurants, some guidance includes operating at 50 per cent capacity, as well as wait staff needing to wear cloth or surgical masks if they cannot maintain two metres of distance. Restaurants will also be required to ensure that tables have proper distance between them. The full restaurant guidelines are available online.

The preliminary launch date for Stage 1 is set for this Thursday, although the final approval has not yet been given, Hinshaw said.

“I am listening to all perspectives and ultimately making my best recommendations for the overall health of Albertans,” she said. “We will advance to relaunch cautiously, but we must proceed for our collective health and well being.”

Hinshaw added she believes it will take the effort of both staff and customers at businesses to keep the infection rates low.

“We are not going back to the way things were,” she said. “We cannot go back. We must move forward.”

The province will also be releasing more guidelines this week on proper use of masks when in public.

Hinshaw added that she believes another important reminder is that no one in the province, whether a patron or worker, should not be out when sick.

“I think this is an encouragement for all of us to remember to reinforce the social norms with each other, that if we’re sick, we should not go out,” she said.

The website also includes a red tape reduction section for businesses to give feedback to the government on the reopening process.

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