‘We’re hurting’ – COVID restrictions continue indefinitely

Pearl Lorentzen
Lakeside Leader

January 21 was to be the end of extended restrictions.

However, on that date the Alberta government’s website said: Current health restrictions are in place until “further notice.”

These restrictions impact Slave Lake restaurants, and other businesses. Restaurants are not allowed to have people eating within the restaurant.

“We’re hurting,” says Tyler Warman, who owns Slave Lake Boston Pizza. Even more than in the spring, the last time restaurants could only do takeout and delivery.

Sports, community centres, gyms, and other recreation and entertainment are not allowed to have anyone in their facilities.

“We’ll survive for sure,” says Robbie Cote of CrossFit Slave Lake. CrossFit has “a loyal member base”. The building is closed, but members are continuing at home with support at a reduced rate. The support includes taking gym equipment home, demo videos and exercise descriptions and strategies.

The money coming in covers most costs, but Cote has dipped into his savings.

“You don’t have any buffer,” says Jennifer Hansen, owner of Dance Creations in Slave Lake. In the fall, the restrictions on class sizes made it hard to earn enough money and not all of dancers wanted to do online classes in December. However, studio owners, dance associations, and parents are petitioning the Alberta government to allow dance studios to reopen. The campaign focuses on the sanitation and health precautions that are in place.

AB Taekwondo has also switched to online classes, but some students have decided to wait until in-person classes can resume.

“If we open, that’s going to be awesome,” says Ava Briones, who owns AB Taekwondo with her husband Alex. There are students who are just waiting to join an in-person class. Taekwondo has dropped sparring for the time being, so all in-person classes are physically distanced. As a family business, AB Taekwondo is eligible for the rent subsidy, but is struggling to survive.

Local entertainers are also impacted.

“For me it’s basically non-existent,” says local comedian, Moe Mouallem, about his comedy career. “This isn’t my main source of income,” which makes it easier. Back in October when restrictions were less strict, he did one staff party and has been asked to do online events. However, interacting with the crowd is important to comedy, so he’s not interested in that platform. He plans to wait until the health restrictions are much closer to normal before performing again.

Current restrictions

  1. Legally, all Albertans must physically distance and isolate when sick or with symptoms.
  2. Masks are mandatory in all indoor public spaces and workplaces.
  3. No indoor social gatherings. Physically distanced outdoor gatherings with 10 or fewer people are allowed.
  4. Restaurants, pubs, bars, lounges and cafes open for take-out or delivery only.
  5. Retail services and shopping malls must reduce customer capacity to 15 per cent.
  6. Health services, like physio and massage – open by appointment only. Also, personal services like hair salons.
  7. Entertainment, libraries and indoor recreation facilities remain closed. Online classes are allowed.
  8. Places of worship limited to 15 per cent capacity for in-person attendance. Weddings are limited to 10 people and funerals to 20. No receptions are allowed.
  9. Working from home is mandatory unless a physical presence is required.
  10. Child care and K-12 learning measures remain in effect.

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