Restrictions draw mixed reviews from Lethbridge business community
New restrictions implemented by the province allow restaurants and bars to remain open, but limit capacity to 25 per cent (including staff). Patrons are only allowed to dine with members of their cohort. Businesses in southern Alberta say the new rules will make it difficult for them to survive financially.
LETHBRIDGE, ALTA. -- Starting Friday restaurants, bars, pubs and lounges also can stay open by following public health orders, but those orders come with a few twists that southern Alberta dining establishments say will make staying afloat even more challenging than it is now.
Alberta Premier Jason Kenney announced Tuesday that Albertans dining out together must be of the same household, tables can seat a maximum of six, and there must be no movement between tables. If an Albertan lives alone, they can eat out with their close contacts. No other services like entertainment and games are allowed in these businesses, and the previous rule mandating liquor sales stop by 10 p.m. and businesses close by 11 p.m. has been extended.
The modifications are drawing criticism from Lethbridge establishments
State of emergency
The new measures come as Kenney enacted a province-wide public health state of emergency Tuesday.
“That's effective immediately," said Kenney. "No indoor social gatherings will be permitted in any setting and outdoor social gatherings will be limited to a maximum of 10 people, let me repeat. No indoor social gatherings will be permitted”
Weddings and funerals will also be capped at 10 people.
The new restrictions will impact education as well.
Starting Nov. 30, all Grade 7 through 12 students will turn to at-home schooling for the rest of 2020.
All Alberta students will begin their holiday break Dec. 18 and come back to school in the new year one week later on Jan. 11 to allow for a latency period, the premier said. However, the vacation is not being extended – students will school at home for the one week prior to Jan. 11.
The Alberta Teachers’ Association said it supported the government’s direction.
“Our schools are only as safe as our communities. Teachers have been concerned about the rising number of COVID cases in Alberta and the impact this increase is having on schools,” ATA president Jason Schilling said in a statement.
Diploma exams in April, June and August will be optional.
“We’re all about supporting whatever measures government feels is safe to keep kids safe, to keep communities safe and to get in a better place in terms of the spread of COVID” said Lethbridge School District Supt. Cheryl Gilmore.
Many Albertans suggesting the latest round of restrictions don’t go far enough and should have included a province-wide mandatory mask bylaw. Lethbridge West MLA Shannon Phillips believes Alberta needs a leader at this time.
“There is no question that Jason Kenney is under pressure from his far-right rural MLAs who do not understand the science of mask wearing,” said Phillips.
The province will be watching to see if the restrictions bring down Alberta’s rate of transmission to one per cent by Dec. 15.