Alberta Chamber calls on government to safely reopen shuttered businesses
The Alberta Chamber of Commerce (ACC), including the Airdrie Chamber, has had enough of the confusion over certain businesses being allowed to open at limited capacity while others have to remain closed during the Alberta government's current restrictions.
For that reason, they're calling on the government to find ways to safely reopen closed businesses wherever possible. That call came after Premier Kenney announced last week that current COVID-19 restrictions would remain in place for at least another two weeks. This afternoon (January 14) Kenney is to give an update on whether the restrictions would remain in place past January 21st since he promised businesses one week's notice on if they would stay in place or be lifted.
In a media release from the ACC, President Ken Kobly says, "Our position has always been, and will continue to be, that Alberta's government take action informed by the advice of the chief medical officer of health. At the same time, we're nearly a year into this pandemic and many businesses have been forced to endure months of shutdowns. This is simply not a sustainable situation for our job creators or our provincial economy."
The Executive Director of the Airdrie Chamber Marilyne Aalhus says the ACC, who represents business people across the province, is asking for answers and clarification on the science and data behind some of the decisions on the restrictions.
"Our thoughts are there's a lot of uncertainty and there's not a lot of clarity on why certain businesses are closed. At the very least we want to see these businesses open at limited capacity again, following all health protocols that they've done such a good job at implementing over the last ten months."
Many businesses such as hair salons, gyms, and restaurants that have been closed during the restrictions are frustrated as to why they aren't allowed to reopen, even at the limited capacity that other businesses have been. Some, such as a hair salon in Innisfail, have reopened and have been met with the threat of fines from Alberta Health Services. Allhus says all the businesses which aren't allowed to open can't figure out why.
"This is just wrong," she says. "I think there needs to be an explanation on their (government's) decisions. There's a lot of frustration and heartache on when these businesses can actually see the light of when they can reopen. The government simply needs to be open and honest with us on why they've made these decisions. More importantly, they need to have a plan on why certain businesses are operating and others are not."
The Airdrie Chamber has written to both Airdrie United Conservative Party MLAs, Peter Guthrie of Airdrie-Cochrane, and Angela Pitt who represents Airdrie-East, and asked them both to push for further clarity from the government. Part of the letters say, "We must support our business community who is confused and frustrated with the current information dictating which businesses are and are not able to operate. We are asking the Alberta government to launched a reopen plan outlining action expected to operators to begin reopening our economy."
Aalhus says they plan to follow up the letters with meetings with both MLAs. "We have set up meetings. They were actually having significant meetings with the Premier (yesterday) so our meetings are slated to be later this week with both of our MLAs. From what we understand they're actually uncertain over where the government will allow us to operate in the next few weeks so we're hoping by the time we meet with them they will have some answers for us."
Allhus says the provincial chamber has sent hundreds of letters from members to the government trying to ask for answers and have some decisions in the near future.
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