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Lethbridge businesses find province’s COVID-19 Step 2 ‘a little bit confusing’

Click to play video: 'COVID-19: Step 2 ‘a little bit confusing’ for some Lethbridge businesses' COVID-19: Step 2 ‘a little bit confusing’ for some Lethbridge businesses
On Monday, the province announced it was easing COVID-19 restrictions on libraries and some indoor fitness, while shifting other businesses to Step 3 of the reopening plan. Eloise Therien has reaction from Lethbridge businesses impacted by this decision. – Mar 2, 2021

Alberta gyms and other fitness facilities have not been able to open to individual or group training since late last year.

When the province made the announcement Monday that some of Step 2 would go forward, including lifting some restrictions on indoor fitness and libraries, the Lethbridge Fitness Club had mixed feelings.

Read more: COVID-19: Low-intensity indoor fitness allowed as Alberta ‘cautiously’ enters Step 2

“We’re a family, a community, here so we’re just excited to be able to help people’s physical and metal wellbeing, [that] was our first exciting thought,” said general manager Becky Hughes.

“It’s a little bit confusing, a lot to figure out.”

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Click to play video: '‘If you’re out of breath, it’s high-intensity’: Alberta health minister on COVID-19 fitness restrictions' ‘If you’re out of breath, it’s high-intensity’: Alberta health minister on COVID-19 fitness restrictions
‘If you’re out of breath, it’s high-intensity’: Alberta health minister on COVID-19 fitness restrictions – Mar 2, 2021

Navigating the uncertainty

The province announced that “low-intensity” group and individual exercise is permitted without a trainer, providing examples such as barre, Pilates, stretching, tai-chi, low-intensity yoga (e.g. hatha, yin), light weightlifting and indoor rock climbing.

Hughes says the gym decided to block of its cardio machines, including treadmills, bikes and ellipticals.

Read more: Gym owners responsible for Alberta’s COVID-19 high-intensity rules, no ‘out-of-breath’ workouts

The plan is to open early Wednesday morning following a deep-clean of the facility.

While she’s not sure exactly how enforcement will work, Hughes said staff will be diligent to ensure rules are adhered to.

“If you’re jumping around and bouncing around too much, anything that seems like it could be over-exertion, we’ll try and ask people to tone that back.

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“We’re lucky enough to have our outdoor space too, and with the fair weather, we can get people to go outside and do those sort of things.”

Click to play video: 'Hinshaw clarifies COVID-19 restrictions for fitness facilities in Step 2' Hinshaw clarifies COVID-19 restrictions for fitness facilities in Step 2
Hinshaw clarifies COVID-19 restrictions for fitness facilities in Step 2 – Mar 2, 2021

Daniel Vincent, owner of Inspire Hot Yoga in downtown Lethbridge, says he initially didn’t think the studio could open, because of its high-intensity nature.

“Students have to be three metres apart, and it’ll just be a little bit slower, a little more gentle, just to keep that respiratory (rate) down,” he explained.

Read more: COVID-19: Some businesses disappointed by Alberta’s Step 2 reopening plan

Both gyms say they will continue offering online programming to accommodate patrons who wish to continue exercising at home, but it’s nice to have the in-person option once again.

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Libraries say online services vital to community

Alberta’s libraries have been given the green light to open at 15 per cent capacity, with the province acknowledging the important role they play in access to information and resources.

Dothlyn McFarlane, the head librarian at the Coaldale Public Library, says the news was a welcome surprise, and it is planning to reopen on March 15.

“We were originally slated to reopen in (Step) 3, so we were anticipating that,” she said.

“We have been hearing from our patrons that they really want to use our library,” McFarlane said. “It’s also that time of year when persons are doing their taxes, so they need access to computers and other services that we offer.”

Click to play video: 'COVID-19: Alberta allows libraries to open, low-intensity fitness activities to resume as part of Step 2 of reopening' COVID-19: Alberta allows libraries to open, low-intensity fitness activities to resume as part of Step 2 of reopening
COVID-19: Alberta allows libraries to open, low-intensity fitness activities to resume as part of Step 2 of reopening – Mar 1, 2021

The Lethbridge Public Library also said its staff is glad to be able to welcome the community back into the building.

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“We are currently working through a re-opening plan that places the health and safety of our staff, customers and community at the forefront,” a statement from LPL read.

Until further notice, the Lethbridge Public Library will be continuing to offer curbside pick-up and its Internet on the Go and Printing on the Go services, as well as its current online services.

Click to play video: 'Alberta identifies 257 new COVID-19 cases, 2 more deaths related to the disease Tuesday' Alberta identifies 257 new COVID-19 cases, 2 more deaths related to the disease Tuesday
Alberta identifies 257 new COVID-19 cases, 2 more deaths related to the disease Tuesday – Mar 2, 2021

Some businesses shifted to Step 3

While the news is welcome for the aforementioned sectors, several businesses scheduled for Step 2 were delayed.

Initially, the province had outlined retail, banquet halls, community halls, conference centres and hotels for potential easing. However, they weren’t included in Monday’s announcement, with officials citing concerns with new daily case numbers, R value and positivity rates.

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Read more: COVID-19: Alberta doctor pleased with province’s slow move into Step 2

Marie Galena with L.A. Chef’s Catering says it wasn’t too surprising, seeing as gathering restrictions were also outlined in Step 3.

“We were hopeful that maybe something would be opened up today for our industry, however we weren’t shocked at all that we weren’t able to,” she said.

Click here for detailed information on the province’s COVID-19 restrictions and Path Forward.

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