Retailers cut out of Alberta's vaccine program just days before changes take hold
The province has changed course on how its proof of vaccination push will impact retailers.
The Restrictions Exemption Program (REP) is set to take hold Monday, and was originally slated to include retail businesses.
Those who participated were able to drop restrictions placed on their stores if they asked customers for proof of at least one vaccination dose or a negative COVID-19 test.
But Saturday evening, the province changed the REP's fine print.
A government representative tells CTV News retailers will no longer be able to participate in the program.
That means capacity will be capped at one third of fire code occupancy and customers will only be allowed to shop with members of their own household or two close contacts if they live alone.
As of Saturday, the change only applied to retailers. Restaurants, bars, theatres and fitness centres can all still participate in the REP to nix restrictions placed on their businesses.
Madame Premier in Inglewood was preparing to enter the program on Saturday morning.
When told of the news later in the day, owner Sarah Elder-Chamanara told CTV News she still plans to ask for proof of vaccination for those entering her store.
It's a route all retailers can still take, but the onus is now on the private business to implement any immunization-related change.
Elder-Chamanara says she believes the original rule already had its flaws for Alberta's small businesses.
"I don't have a staff I can depend on and I don't have the ability to rely on someone at the door like a restaurant, so I think it'll actually be more challenging for businesses like mine," she said. "I just want to remain optimistic that people are going to be kind and empathetic."
The province is still finalizing certain details of the plan. A representative promised additional details prior to Monday.