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Coronavirus: Calgary businesses react to new COVID-19 restrictions

Calgary businesses react to new COVID-19 restrictions
WATCH: New restrictions from the Alberta government are prompting more non-essential businesses to close their doors during the COVID-19 pandemic. As Adam MacVicar reports, many small business owners in Calgary say they wanted to see these rules sooner.
Editor’s note: A previous version of the video above stated Memory Express was deemed a non-essential service by Alberta Health. It has been updated to state that Memory Express is in fact an essential service based on the criteria outlined by the province of Alberta.

Several businesses in Alberta are closing their doors for the time being after new restrictions were implemented across the province to address the spread of COVID-19.

READ MORE: Alberta has 79 new COVID-19 cases, bringing total to 621

On Friday, Alberta announced new measures ordering some businesses that have been deemed non-essential to close.

The provincial restrictions apply to non-essential retail businesses like clothing stores, hobby and toy stores, computer and gaming stores and furniture stores, as well as services in shopping malls and shopping centres.

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The province also announced that close-contact businesses including hair salons and barbershops, tattoo and piercing studios, aesthetic services and wellness studios must close.

Clinics and non-emergency and non-critical health services including dentistry, physiotherapy, massage, podiatry, chiropractic and optometry services are also included in the order.

READ MORE: Calgary Zoo, YMCA announce layoffs amid COVID-19 pandemic

The City of Calgary has also announced that all personal care businesses must close their doors to the public.

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The new restrictions were welcomed by Gaurav Gupta, who owns several Leela Eco Spa locations throughout Calgary.

“These [restrictions], I think, should have come out sooner,” Gupta said.

Gupta said he and his staff made the decision to close voluntarily prior to the restrictions announced by the government.

READ MORE: Local Laundry highlights Calgary’s small business sector amid COVID-19 outbreak

The staff at Leela Eco Spa began tracking metrics of appointment cancellations, and noticed a large drop in last-minute cancellations beginning March 10, Gupta said.

“It was quite unexpected that this was going to happen,” Gupta said. “We still had a lot of appointments booked in but we made the call as a business for the community.”

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READ MORE: COVID-19 pandemic limits Calgary malls to essential services only

According to Gupta, the new restrictions eliminate any uncertainty about whether certain businesses should remain open or temporarily close.

But with over 100 people on his staff, Gupta is concerned not knowing how long these restrictions will remain in effect.

“As a business, we can take a few months out but I hope it doesn’t come to that,” he said.

READ MORE: Alberta government redirects school funding into COVID-19 response; NDP calls move ‘unconscionable’

Down the street at The Ave Barbershop, Arey Kadir also closed his shop prior to these latest restrictions.

Kadir said he hoped to see these new measures implemented sooner, as the shop serves between 6,000 and 10,000 clients per month, and most of those appointments are in very close contact.

“This is an industry where we get within inches of our clients so it’s very likely that we could pass anything on to one another,” Kadir said. “So it should’ve been done a long time ago but I’m glad it’s taking action now.”

The provincial restrictions also impact dine-in restaurants.

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According to provincial officials, restaurants can no-longer offer dine-in service but can continue with delivery and take-out services.

Licensed establishments can also offer alcohol delivery.

“Normally, the liquor business is between 50 to 30 per cent of our business in our type of operation,” Modern Steak owner Stephen Deere said. “So being able to get a little bit of that back is definitely helping us out.”

Grocery stores, pharmacies, delivery services and other businesses deemed essential services will remain open.

The government clarified liquor and cannabis stores are being treated the same as grocery stores and may remain open.

Workplaces that are not otherwise restricted or ordered to close can have more than 15 workers on a worksite as long as they follow all public health guidelines, including social distancing measures, the province said.

A full list of affected businesses and services can be found at alberta.ca.

– With files from Global News’ Emily Mertz and Demi Knight