NEWS
05/13/2020 19:40 EDT | Updated 05/14/2020 09:12 EDT

Alberta Relaunch Will Let Retail Stores, Restaurants, Salons Reopen

Some businesses are choosing to wait before they reopen their doors.

CALGARY — Albertans may be allowed to shop in a store, get a haircut or sit down for a restaurant meal as soon as Thursday, but some businesses say they’ll wait longer to reopen their doors.

ReWorks Upcycle Shop in Calgary has been selling sustainable gifts and home decor during the COVID-19 pandemic through online orders and curbside pickup.

Owner Solita Works said she misses chatting with customers face to face, but does not feel it’s safe yet to open.

“It would be a death blow to a little business like mine if I were to get infected or if one of my customers were and my shop was the source. I really don’t want to be responsible for that,” she said Wednesday.

“As long as cases are still growing and they’re not 100 per cent sure where they’re coming from, I think it’s kind of crazy to open.”

Jeff McIntosh/THE CANADIAN PRESS
Pedestrians cross a quiet street in downtown Calgary on Mar. 18, 2020, amid a worldwide COVID-19 pandemic. 

The first phase of Alberta’s economic “relaunch strategy” is targeted to begin as early as Thursday. Some non-essential retailers — like clothing, furniture and book stores — will be able to reopen with precautions.

Some salons and barbershops can also resume, as well as museums and art galleries. Cafes, restaurants, pubs and bars can open at half capacity.

Susan Hare, who co-owns Owl’s Nest Books in Calgary, is holding off for at least a week. The shop has been doing brisk business taking phone, email and online orders for delivery or curbside pickup.

“We just don’t feel prepared right now to handle in-person customers and we need the weekend to prepare and get everything organized for that,” she said.

That means moving furniture around to allow for proper physical distancing, putting up protective panels at the cash register and figuring out how many people the store can safely accommodate at a time.

Jeff McIntosh/THE CANADIAN PRESS
Empty downtown streets in Calgary on Mar. 18, 2020, amid a worldwide COVID-19 pandemic. 

Avenida Food Hall, where several independent vendors have their own booths, removed all tables and chairs because of the pandemic.

“When it first hit, it was really devastating on a lot of the businesses here,” said general manager Yuval Greenfeld.

“The whole premise of the business was people coming into our space — hang out, have a nice meal, enjoy some entertainment.”

Some vendors have been offering frozen meals or takeout, but Greenfeld said he’s looking forward to a gradual return to normal.

As early as Thursday, the food hall aims to bring back some tables and chairs, making sure they’re spaced out. There will only be one entrance and a limit on how many people can be in the space at once.

Hand washing stations will be added to the hand sanitizer dispensers that are already there.

“We’re looking forward to getting started,” Greenfeld said. “We’re going try to do some outdoor seating as well to give people a little more space.”

One of the world’s largest indoor shopping centres, West Edmonton Mall, plans to reopen all entrances to customers once the first relaunch phase starts. Some businesses there had previously been offering curbside pickup.

There will be dedicated doors to enter and exit, and interior doors will be kept open to reduce surfaces being touched.

The mall will have decals on the floor marking one-way traffic flow and appropriate physical distancing.

Guest services counters will have acrylic shields and the food courts will operate at half-capacity.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published  May 13, 2020.