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Return of weddings and gatherings too little, too late for some Alberta event planners

Click to play video: 'Return of weddings and gatherings in Alberta a mixed blessing for couples, planners' Return of weddings and gatherings in Alberta a mixed blessing for couples, planners
Part of Phase 2 in Alberta's relaunch plan includes changes to the number of people allowed at gatherings, like weddings. As Nicole Stillger explains, for some it's welcome news, for others it's too little too late. – Jun 10, 2020

On Friday, Stage 2 of Alberta’s relaunch plan will begin. Part of that phase includes increases in the number of people allowed at gatherings — like weddings.

READ MORE: Coronavirus: Stage 2 of Alberta relaunch takes effect Friday, earlier than expected

Sheldon Fingler’s work revolves around large gatherings.

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, his event planning business lost 90 per cent of its bookings.

“We’ve had cancellations… all the way through October,” the owner of Infinite Events Services said.

“We’re truly the first business affected, but we will also be the last to recover, because we require large gatherings.”

In Stage 2 of the province’s relaunch plan, the number of people who can gather indoors will increase to 50 — if you’re outside, 100 — as long as physical distancing (two metres apart) is maintained.

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“It’s a little bit frustrating already,” Fingler said.

“We need to be told their goal and what the next steps could be, but changing the next step at the last second just puts us in another position where we don’t know how to react.”

READ MORE: Coronavirus: Gyms, pools, indoor fitness can open June 12 for Stage 2 of Alberta relaunch

The province said it makes decisions based on Alberta’s active cases and trajectory.

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“We are just doing our best to adjust our guidance based on the most current levels of risk,” Dr. Deena Hinshaw said Wednesday.

“For some people, I absolutely understand that’s incredibly frustrating and I’m sorry for that.”

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For one Edmonton bride-to-be, it’s been a stressful experience.

Kayley Huculak and her fiance, Cody Proskow, were supposed to get married in May, but the pandemic shut down those plans.

“The wind was definitely taken out of my sails,” Huculak said.

Click to play video: 'Tiny weddings becoming popular during COVID-19 pandemic in Alberta' Tiny weddings becoming popular during COVID-19 pandemic in Alberta
Tiny weddings becoming popular during COVID-19 pandemic in Alberta – May 11, 2020

” I just wasn’t excited anymore — I stopped planning, I stopped looking at doing all the things that bride should be doing — I just couldn’t be bothered.”

Tuesday’s announcement reignited her enthusiasm and now the wedding is back on for August.

“It was like a total 180 (degree) shift for myself and my fiance,” she explained.

“It was like, ‘OK, we’re doing this,’ and I remade my list yesterday and contacted everybody, I talked to all the vendors.”

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She said they’re keeping public health measures in mind.

“Let’s get some duct tape… and draw lines on the ground, whether it be in front of the bar or spacing the seats for the dinner,” she said.

“We’re going to have stations with hand sanitizer and if people want to wear masks, [they] are welcome to.”

READ MORE: Albertans encouraged to postpone weddings another ‘few months’

Fingler said he’s still trying to figure out how to rebound.

“We are in the mode of trying to figure out, with every customer, in every way, we can help them — and try to recover some business this year.”

He said he applied for the Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) loan program and wage subsidy program, but will still need support long-term.

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