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Coronavirus: Edmonton to allow garage, yard sales starting Friday

COVID-19: Edmontonians can once again host garage sales
WATCH ABOVE: For the first time in months, Edmontonians can once again host garage sales. Sarah Ryan reports.

As more and more coronavirus safety measures ease, garage and yard sales will once again be allowed to operate in Edmonton, effective Friday.

During Thursday’s meeting of Edmonton’s emergency advisory committee, city manager Adam Laughlin said the decision came following the guidance of the provincial government. Garage sales were banned in the city in late April.

Read more: City of Edmonton expands state of emergency; bans garage sales

Councillor Michael Walters was particularly vocal against the idea of allowing garage sales to resume amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I love me a good garage sale as much as anybody… but this seems very risky to me that we would allow garage sales,” Walters said. “Lots of cash exchanged, lots of touching of different items, lots of different people. And garage sale shoppers tend to go from garage sale to garage sale to garage sale to garage sale.

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“Provide me some comfort that this isn’t a bad idea.”

In response to Walter’s concern, Laughlin stressed the decision was made in alignment with the guidance from the provincial government. He stressed that it’s something the city will keep an eye on.

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Coronavirus R value in Alberta remains low after parts of economy reopened

“Part of it was leading off of the provincial government in terms of reopening and relaunching and public feedback and the desire to create opportunities,” Laughlin said.

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“This does create opportunities for some of those folks that are struggling financially to utilize this to help them.

“It’s certainly something we will be monitoring.”

Read more: Barrie, Ont., allows yard sales amid coronavirus pandemic

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Dr. Chris Sikora, medical officer of health with Alberta Health Services in the Edmonton Zone, joined Thursday’s committee meeting remotely and said “things could go either way on that.”

“Most garage sales are in outdoor environments,” Sikora noted. “Yes, cash transactions are primarily how things do occur and there is that increased chance for spread. I think if garage sales are to proceed, physical distancing aspects should be something that would be very important. And then to buyers at those locations, ensuring that there is awareness that you should probably wipe your items down when you do get home.”

Walters went on to say the idea makes him nervous.

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In March, Vince Bava was getting ready to move and wanted to have a garage sale to sell some things he didn’t want to bring with him.

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“When COVID hit it just put a damper on everything. I had to get creative. I started selling a lot of the items on Facebook buy and sell privately,” Bava said.

Bava had a lot of success with bigger items like furniture and appliances, and he made sure the transactions were safe.

“A lot of people were really good about it. A lot of people were willing to do e-transfer and I’d do curbside pickup and stuff to make them feel comfortable.”

But he still has a lot of smaller things to sell.  So when he heard the city was allowing garage sales again, he decided to jump in.

“You hear about other things opening up, like casinos and other stuff and flea markets and you’re like — how is that any different than a garage sale?”

He is encouraging people to just look at things, not touch, unless they are interesting in the buying the item.

“I kind of just step back unless they have questions. Some come with masks and some just have no regard.”

The City of Edmonton said operators are required to ensure appropriate physical distancing and safety measures are in place. Guidelines have been posted on the city’s website on how to safely host a garage sale.

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