By Jensen, Randy on October 9, 2020.
In light of a recent increase in COVID-19 cases in the city and the region, Lethbridge’s economic leaders are calling on residents to continue to take precautions and follow all public health orders to ensure businesses can continue to operate, so we do not have to once again experience the closure of businesses in the region.
The call comes in response to comments made by Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw on Wednesday when she stated she has not ruled out re-imposing certain lockdown measures if cases continue to rise across the province as both Ontario and Quebec have done in recent weeks.
“Between February and May of this year our region lost 14,000 jobs, in large part because of COVID,” Economic Development Lethbridge CEO and Lethbridge Region Economic Recovery Task Force co-chair Trevor Lewington told reporters on Thursday. “But as of the end of September almost 74 per cent of those jobs have been recovered. We are a resilient area, we have a diversified economy, but it requires all of us working together, and honouring all five principles of the ‘Post Promise’; so everything from proper washing of hands and social distancing -all of those things work in conjunction to ensure we protect ourselves, protect businesses and protect our economy moving forward.”
“From our perspective, we have seen Lethbridge work very hard through COVID,” agreed Lethbridge Chamber of Commerce CEO and fellow Task Force co-chair Cyndi Vos. “We are used to the process of what we need to do to keep business going. I think as long as we stay vigilant as business, and as a community, we will be able to move forward and not see what is going on in Ontario and Quebec.”
Addressing recent reports of outbreaks at Lethbridge Family Services, at Children’s House Child Care Society, at Extendicare Fairmont in Lethbridge, and among over 30 members the Good News Centre Church community in Coalhurst, Mayor Chris Spearman said it was up to all residents to help keep businesses going by following all provincial public health orders and local masking bylaws when shopping at Lethbridge businesses.
“Everything we can do together as a community to keep businesses open, and protect our economy, is so vital right now,” said Spearman. “As a hub city, we’re particularly vulnerable. And we are learning a little about what this latest outbreak is: a significant portion is from a weekend religious event, and we are gathering more information.”
“It’s challenging keeping everybody safe,” he admitted. “Something like 15,000 people, about 15 per cent of our population, are seriously vulnerable (to COVID-19). Certainly looking out for businesses, and looking out for each other, is key.”
Besides the public health side of the situation, Spearman reminded residents of the consequences if economic lockdowns are reimposed by the provincial government on any sector of the local economy, or if outbreaks occur at any local manufacturing and food-processing facilities.
“We have already seen the meatpacking industry get shut down,” Spearman reminded reporters. “We don’t want goods shipped elsewhere, and employment transfer elsewhere, because we can’t keep ourselves safe.”
As of Thursday afternoon, Lethbridge had 44 active cases, an increase of six over Wednesday, while Lethbridge County had 33 active cases, up seven from the day previous.
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