Alberta restaurant and gym owners demand reopening timeline as businesses continue to struggle
CALGARY -- Public health restrictions will be front and centre for Alberta’s UCP government Monday as the provincial cabinet discusses when to ease them.
Business owners across the province are demanding answers and anxiously awaiting a definitive timeline on when they can reopen their doors.
The Alberta Hospitality Association (AHA) has encouraged its members to message local MLAs in an effort to learn more details.
Premier Jason Kenney has promised a minimum of one week's notice so owners can prepare to open back up, but there has been no word as of Monday afternoon. Instead, Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw said last week that restrictions would “not ease anytime soon.”
The AHA is asking for clear evidence on how cases could be linked to restaurants and calling for top-up relief on things like rent, property tax, and utility abatement, similar to what is being provided to locked-down restaurants in Ontario.
Meanwhile, Alberta’s fitness industry is also crying out for help.
A new petition started by Fort McMurray, Alta. gym owner, Leif Palsen, has garnered more than 17,000 signatures online.
He says hundreds of local gyms across Alberta are on the brink of shutting down due to financial concerns and mental health is now at an all-time low.
“We need to give people hope that there’s going to be something for them,” Palsen said.
“People need the gym in order to de-stress and better themselves and they’re not allowed to do that right now, so they’re sitting at home abruptly. The province has completely taken this away with no guidelines of when gyms can re-open and were suffering in the darkest time of the year.”
Eric Barber, owner of Barrack’s Fitness in Calgary, says his revenue streams are tanking and wants to see a clear path to reopening.
“We can’t do this forever,” said Barber.
“We’ve been villainized by AHS (and) it’s going to take us years to recover from this, even if we were to open right now.”
Barber says he does not plan to reopen until restrictions are lifted, but wants to have his voice heard along with others from the fitness industry, that gyms are a safe space.
“Just saying all gyms or all group fitness or all group exercise is unsafe, is unfair," he said.
“I have contacted MLAs, people in AHS, with nothing, no response, no hope.”
Barber says he has separated workout areas and only accept appointments from clients to make contract tracing easier.
Members of industries that are shut down are hopeful they will soon get at least some sort of direction from the UCP Government.
CTV News has contacted the province for details on when businesses, but has yet to receive an update.
In the meantime, the Alberta government website states wellness services can be open by appointment only, but “all other restrictions remain in effect.”
Health Minister Tyler Shandro is scheduled to appear at Monday's 3:30 p.m. update along with Hinshaw.