Coronavirus: Calgary businesses prepare for May 25 reopening

Calgary joins the rest of Alberta in Phase 1 relaunch
WATCH: There's excitement and a bit of anxiety as Calgary joins the rest of the province in phase one of Alberta’s relaunch strategy. Lauren Pullen reports.

Several businesses in Calgary are making final preparations ahead of reopening on Monday as part of the first phase of the provincial relaunch strategy.

READ MORE: Alberta Health announces 42 new COVID-19 cases Sunday

The province was given the green light to reopen on May 14, except for Calgary and Brooks, where the number of active COVID-19 cases remained high.

But some retailers and other services in Calgary and Brooks reopened with the rest of the province, including daycares and museums.

On Friday, Premier Jason Kenney announced that the two communities could participate in Phase 1 of the relaunch, which will include the reopening of several services, including restaurants, bars, hair salons and barbershops.

Coronavirus: Calgary businesses prepare for May 25 reopening
Coronavirus: Calgary businesses prepare for May 25 reopening

READ MORE: Calgary and Brooks get green light to move forward with Stage 1 of Alberta’s relaunch strategy

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At the Ave Barbershop in Bridgeland in Calgary, staff spent their Sunday putting on the finishing touches before they open the doors on Monday.

“Right now, we just want to make sure that everybody is safe entering the premises and exiting the premises,” Ave Barbershop owner Arey Kadir said. “That’s our number one priority.”

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The shop has been retrofitted with plexiglass panels between each chair, a check-in station at the front door with hand sanitizer, and personal protective equipment (PPE) such as masks for clients and workers.

Mayor, Calgary restaurant react to reopening city-specific restrictions
Mayor, Calgary restaurant react to reopening city-specific restrictions

According to Kadir, services have been reduced due to the health measures in place but the shop is fully booked for its first week back in business.

“I think it’s going to be very satisfying,” Kadir said. “I think that first stroke of the clippers running through the head is going to be super satisfying on both ends, as much as it will be for us, it will be for them as well.”

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Non-essential businesses were ordered to close at the end of March due to rising cases of COVID-19 in the province.

Many restaurants, bars and cafes, like CRAFT Beer Market in downtown Calgary, have remained open, only offering take-out services throughout the pandemic.

Dine-in services will be allowed to start on May 25 but at 50 per cent capacity.

However, CRAFT plans to open later in the first week of the relaunch after the false start on May 14.

“We just wanted to make sure that everything was in place and there aren’t going to be any last-minute changes letting us know that we couldn’t open on the 25th,” CRAFT brand, marketing and sales director Alison Roberston said.

“So we just wanted to make sure green lights all the way around.”

Multiple health measures have been put in place for reopening, including seating at every second table to maintain distance, reduced capacity and hours, more extensive cleaning, digital menus and hand sanitizer at every table.

“We’re excited to welcome people back and we’re really confident in the systems and measures that we’ve put in place for [reopening],” Roberston said.

“We still want to provide that approachable, fun atmosphere that we’re known for but we’re definitely cognizant of the health and safety concerns people have.”

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Coronavirus: Calgary Chamber of Commerce reacts to Monday’s business relaunch
Coronavirus: Calgary Chamber of Commerce reacts to Monday’s business relaunch

Alberta is scheduled to move forward with Stage 2 of its relaunch strategy in June, which would allow more businesses and services to reopen, including artificial tanning, manicures, massage and reflexology.

On Friday, Kenney noted that the province is looking at proceeding with Stage 2 as originally planned.

If all goes well, further restrictions are expected to be eased on June 1.

Those would include the reopening of day camps with restrictions, summer classes with a cap on students at post-secondary institutions, and expanded capacity at funerals and places of worship.