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Red Arrow closes shop in Alberta, lays off most staff citing coronavirus effects

John Stepovy with Red Arrow Motorcoach.
John Stepovy with Red Arrow Motorcoach. Provided to Global News

Red Arrow Motorcoach has announced it’s suspending all of its bus routes in Alberta, effective Monday, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We’ve been providing service to Alberta for 40 years getting people safely home,”said John Stepovy, Red Arrow’s director of business development.

“Now we’ve changed our efforts in saying to the public ‘please stay safely home.'”

Red Arrow operates throughout Alberta and in 2018 expanded its services after Greyhound announced it was shutting down its routes in Western Canada.

READ MORE: Western Canada Greyhound withdrawal ‘to have implications for labour mobility’: Edmonton mayor

Stepovy said prior to making the decision to temporarily shut down, the company had been doing all it could to ensure the safety of its passengers and employees.

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“When this pandemic first started, we took measures pretty immediately with increased disinfection and cleaning and practiced social distancing on board our coaches.”

READ MORE: Alberta closes some non-essential business, prevents evictions as 542 COVID-19 cases confirmed

On March 27, the provincial government announced there were more than 500 confirmed cases of COVID-19.

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“Now is the time to temporarily cease our operations to make sure our staff and public are healthy,” Stepovy said.

Red Arrow said effective Monday, nearly all of its employees will be let go except those in key positions.

The service suspension also includes the company’s Ebus service.

READ MORE: Red Arrow plans new bus service between Calgary, Red Deer, Edmonton

“Red Arrow employs about 150 people between office staff, drivers, maintenance and administration,” Stepovy said.

“These are dedicated employees who have been with us for many years.”

The company is planning to keep the phone lines open and will answer emails from people with questions or concerns.

“These times are unprecedented to say the least,” Stepovy said. “This ultimately was the decision we thought was necessary.”

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READ MORE: Greyhound replacements find tough road to prosperity in Western Canada


Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

Health officials caution against all international travel. Returning travellers are legally obligated to self-isolate for 14 days, beginning March 26, in case they develop symptoms and to prevent spreading the virus to others. Some provinces and territories have also implemented additional recommendations or enforcement measures to ensure those returning to the area self-isolate.

Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.

To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out.

For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, click here.”