Edmonton malls quiet, barbershops lined up on Day 1 of Alberta’s phased relaunch

Click to play video: 'Malls, salons begin to reopen in Edmonton on Thursday'
Malls, salons begin to reopen in Edmonton on Thursday
WATCH ABOVE: With Alberta's relaunch strategy now in Phase 1, some Edmonton businesses have reopened. We have team coverage from Fletcher Kent looking at malls and retail, and Nicole Stillger checking in with hair salons and barbers. – May 14, 2020

It’s Day 1 of Stage 1 of Alberta’s relaunch amid the COVID-19 pandemic and while stores, businesses and malls are beginning to reopen, they look much different than just a couple of months ago.

Southgate Centre in south Edmonton opened its doors on Thursday morning, but not all of its stores have decided to reopen just yet. Mall traffic was slow but the general manager said he’s feeling excited.

“I’m happy to see that traffic is picking up and people are slowly coming to check out Southgate, see what kind of changes have been made and currently just browsing around, getting a feel,” Vivian Wagner said.

READ MORE: Coronavirus: Calgary, Brooks to take slower approach as Alberta implements Phase 1 of relaunch

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Some of the changes include hand sanitizer dispensers at high-traffic areas such as entrances and mall directories.

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Fewer tables are set up in the food court and the mall has increased the frequency of cleaning in common areas and at key touch points like handles, handrails, counters, directories and washrooms. There is also new signage that encourages physical distancing.

“We plan to have additional security guards at the property to manage foot traffic and ensure that social distancing measures are maintained at all times,” the mall said in a statement earlier this week.

Some stores in Edmonton’s Southgate Centre reopened on Day 1 of the Stage 1 of the province’s relaunch on Thursday, May 24, 2020. Global News

Foot traffic was also slow at the Premium Outlet Collection Edmonton International Airport mall Thursday morning, where just over a dozen stores have reopened.

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Social distancing and enhanced cleaning and sanitization measures have been put in place at the mall and officials ask people not to come in if they’re feeling unwell.

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The Premium Outlet Collection Edmonton International Airport mall Thursday, May 14, 2020 on Day 1 of the province’s relaunch. Wes Rosa, Global News

But while shops and stores may have been a bit slower, it appears some Edmontonians are just itching for a haircut. Several local barber shops saw lines out the door Thursday morning, as people sought a fresh cut after months of growth.

The demand could be seen outside Legendary Barbershop on Jasper Avenue, where a line formed as soon as the shop opened its door. But inside, things look a bit different where they’re operating at 50 per cent capacity. Physical distancing measures are in place and stylists are required to wear personal protective equipment.

Owner Danny Handous admits he was a bit nervous for reopening day.

“It was tough, the first few haircuts, getting a procedure ready and following the steps and everything and it’s just that extra work that’s a little tiring,” Handous said.

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Click to play video: 'What to expect at Alberta salons when they reopen'
What to expect at Alberta salons when they reopen

Premier Jason Kenney gave the official go-ahead Wednesday for Stage 1 of the province’s plan to reopen the economy. However, it is taking a regional approach with Calgary and Brooks opening a bit more slowly than the rest of the province.

Kenney said this is due to the fact that 75 per cent of the province’s COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations are located in these two cities.

Stage 1 of the province’s relaunch allows retail stores, hair salons, museums, daycares and day camps to open, with restrictions. Restaurants and cafes can also reopen but only at half capacity.

MKT in Edmonton reopened as part of Stage 1 of the province’s relaunch on Thursday, May 14, 2020.
MKT in Edmonton reopened as part of Stage 1 of the province’s relaunch on Thursday, May 14, 2020. Cam Cook, Global News

The reopenings apply across the province, except in Calgary and Brooks, which will have to wait until May 25.

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As of Wednesday afternoon, there were 6,407 total confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Alberta. Of those, 5,076 — or 79 per cent — of people had recovered. There were 1,211 active cases of COVID-19 in the province Wednesday afternoon, 61 of which were in Edmonton.

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