Two months ago, life in Alberta changed indefinitely.
School moved to the home, stores and personal services like hairstyling or aesthetics shut down, events were cancelled and stores began implementing new protocols to keep their customers a safe distance from one another with directional lines and markers at the till.
Tomorrow, we will begin to see a few shop doors reopen as the Province introduces the first phase of its relaunch strategy. Restaurants, retail (clothing, furniture and book) stores, hairsylists and barbers, museums and art galleries can start to welcome customers, but with restrictions.
Restaurants, cafes and pubs can serve patrons in-house, but only at 50 per cent seating capacity with tables at least six feet apart, and hairstylists will have strict regulations around the number of clients permitted inside at one time, the distance between chairs and the length of time stylists must take in between each appointment to sanitize their stations. This change means less money in the pockets of business owners, especially with the requirements for PPE, but it’s better than not opening at all. And although it won’t be business as usual, phasing in the relaunch is a good thing.
A slow restart to the economy will mean some employees can get back to work and allow people to safely support their local businesses. With the right procedures in place, there’s no reason to fear the reopening of the economy. Business owners are taking precautions to ensure their clients and customers are safe and secure, and will be working double-time to gain the trust of Okotoks residents.
It’s going to take time for that trust to grow, but it has to start somewhere. Going out for dinner at a restaurant that’s cleaner than ever before and eager to please, or getting a cut-and-colour from a stylist who has been dying to get back behind the chair and is taking extra measures to ensure client safety are simple ways to inch toward “normal” life.
It’s up to the community, the customers, to have faith and take those first steps.