Clayten Willington is a barber. He never dreamed he’d have to ask his customers for identification, but he’s now seriously considering it.
“We have seen customers just kind of grease their way in from Calgary,” said Willington, who owns Red Stag Barber in Red Deer, Alta.
On May 14, Alberta allowed several industries to reopen for business after mandated COVID-19-related closures. Hair salons, barbers and restaurants were all included, except in Calgary and Brooks. Those communities are still dealing with more active COVID-19 cases than the rest of the province.
Willington opened his doors on Day 1 and said five would-be customers came all the way from Calgary. That doesn’t sit well with him.
“I think it’s a little rude how desperate they are, that they’ll just get in their car, hop down and do whatever it takes to get a haircut,” he said.
“We feel really safe about our capacity to keep our staff safe. But when people start travelling outside their zone to come to a place like this, I feel it endangers our staff.”
Willington said he has sent home every one of the Calgarians seeking a cut. His staff have been told to follow his lead.
Further north, there are similar concerns. Restaurants have been allowed to open in Edmonton but not in Calgary.
To celebrate their reopening, the owners of Spotlight Cabaret had planned a comedy show. They initially got the all-clear but at the last moment were told no.
“On opening day, we got a call from AGLC saying, ‘Actually the info wasn’t clear and we don’t think you can do the show,'” said Aimee Beaudoin.
There were several reasons for the decision. Beaudoin said one of them was a fear that Calgarians might drive up to see the show.
“We said that’s not a problem for us because we have a hard enough time getting people from Edmonton to see our shows,” she jokes.
Joking aside, she and her business partner understand the need for restrictions. They said they might be tempted to make a trip south if the roles were reversed.
“It’s like living in a dry state in the U.S. and going to have a drink somewhere else. This is, ‘We’re open for business and they’re not open for business,’” said Jeff Halaby.
“We are asking those living in Calgary and Brooks to wait to access services upon reopening in their communities, rather than travelling for services,” said Tom McMillan, a spokesperson for Alberta Health.
This is to protect the safety of all involved, he said.
“At this time time, checkpoints or other restrictive measures are not being considered. We believe the vast majority of residents in Calgary and Brooks will continue to do the right thing.”
Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, urges Albertans to follow all the rules.
“The better we can collectively hold our infection rates stable and low as we move into this Stage 1, the quicker we’ll be able to move to Stage 2,” she said.
Willington plans to keep watch for travellers. He figures most people will be respectful and stay in their own city. But for those considering a trip, he has his own advice.
“You already got a baby mullet, you might as well just wait an extra nine or 10 days.”