By Herald on January 8, 2021.
A number of local businesses say they are planning to open for business on Monday no matter what COVID-19 protocols are in place.
On Thursday, Lethbridge Mayor Chris Spearman said he was seeing about 20 businesses saying they are going to open next week “come whatever.”
Premier Jason Kenney announced Thursday current COVID-19 lockdown rules will continue until at least Jan. 21, while students will head back to schools this Monday as planned.
The province brought in stricter measures a month ago, including a ban on indoor and outdoor gatherings and sharply reduced capacity in retail stores.
“When I spoke with the Premier on Dec. 15 on a provincial town hall, they indicated they would be back with information by Jan. 12. Depending on what the reaction was over Christmas, and we continued to have control of the pandemic, they would provide updates’” said Spearman.
“I would encourage everyone to wait for further guidance from the (Chief) Medical Officer of Health, the premier, or the provincial government to see what the new regulations will be, and how we might be able to operate our economy and still keep each other safe.”
When asked by The Herald on Thursday if they intend to enforce public health regulations, the Lethbridge Police Service issued the following statement.
“It is our understanding that officials with Alberta Health Services (AHS) are aware of these ‘call to action’ social media posts and the businesses in question. At this point, AHS is dealing with the matter as it falls under its jurisdiction. The Lethbridge Police Service will provide assistance when and if AHS requests it. No further comment will be provided at this time.”
Lethbridge’s Canadian Martial Centre, Peppermint Hippo Tattoo and Electric Skin Clinic are among the local businesses that have expressed their intentions to open Monday in spite of protocols in place.
Lee Main, of the Canadian Martial Arts Centre Lethbridge, posted a video saying that he intends to reopen his gym and train as they normally do, while encouraging other businesses to join them in reopening.
“It’s time to take a stand, I am opening my gym January 11,” said Mein in the video message.
“If it’s safe for government officials to travel, if it’s safe for big box stores to be open, it it’s safe for malls to be packed, it’s safe for small businesses and gyms to be open.”
Electric Skin Clinic released their statement on early reopening saying that their business isn’t able to survive since the shutdown and that it has been the hardest year financially and mentally for their business.
“Our business cannot survive any more shut downs, and we refuse to lose everything we have worked so hard for,” the post read.
“Hockey teams can still play, hundreds of people can shop at Costco or ski together, we are more than capable of providing an even safer environment with a one on one setting and our current protocols.”
The mandatory restrictions apply province-wide and are legally binding until they have been lifted, with individuals or businesses violating public health orders subject to fines.
Lethbridge Police Service are said to have yet to hand out any fines to businesses or individuals for violating COVID-19 restrictions.
-with files from The Canadian Press