Advocacy Update: Clear direction needed for businesses that remain closed
Posted: Jan 25, 2021
This letter was submitted by the Board of the Lacombe & District Chamber of Commerce on January 22nd regarding the ongoing closure of businesses. We are calling on the provincial government to allow for safe, measured reopening to allow for their survival.
The Honorable Jason Kenney, MLA
Premier of Alberta
Office of the Premier
307 Legislature Building
10800 – 97 Avenue
Edmonton, Alberta T5K 2B6
Thank you for the timely response we received from your office regarding the letter we sent on January 12th, addressing the current business closures and restrictions. The Lacombe & District Chamber of Commerce was encouraged to hear the updates made January 14th, allowing for Personal Services businesses to reopen on the 18th. This was very welcome news to our leadership and to the many businesses in these industries within our community. The measures introduced to allow for reopening were reasonable and appropriate.
Using this measured reopening as a template, we believe there is a way for other industries to follow suit; namely, fitness centers, gyms, dance studios, yoga studios, etc. With proper sanitizing and distancing measures, it must be possible for these businesses to operate in a safe way that continues to maintain public safety.
You indicated that the government does not want to pick winners or losers, but it is clear to us that that is what’s happening. The above-mentioned businesses are losing, and every day that these closures are prolonged, the likelihood of them being able to reopen and be sustainable decreases.
Adding to the frustration of these businesses is the fact that the government has yet to indicate what measures will be used to determine the decision to reopen, whether R value, vaccinations or otherwise. Now that January 21st has passed without detailed information about what is coming, these businesses do not know how to move forward.
We continue to hear concerns that if they cannot reopen as of February 1st, businesses may not survive. As you are aware, this is the reality across our entire province.
We are calling on the provincial government to work with these industries to allow them to reopen safely. Under no circumstances would we recommend or encourage businesses to operate against the guidelines of the Chief Medical Officer of Health. However, we believe there must be a balance that can be reached that will allow them to continue operating that will both maintain public safety and allow for our economy to survive this challenging time.
We have included statements from two of our local businesses who are affected by these closures:
"I own a dance studio with three locations. The third was opened in November 2019 and since then has only been operation for 5 months of the last year due to business closures and restrictions. My combined student numbers have gone from 602 to 298 because clientele are not interested in paying for online classes. A 50% reduction in dancers means a 50% reduction of revenues and the result is that the future of all three studios is in jeopardy.
We have gone above and beyond with protocols and making our studio safe for our students. We are not the problem!"
~Heather Buelow, Dancer’s Edge Studio
“This second round of closures is crippling our business. We implemented all new guidelines and procedures in order to reopen in June and we are confident that we can maintain a healthy space for our members, but we need to reopen in order to also maintain the health of our business. Our future success is dependent on having our members back in the gym as soon as possible. Why are trainers allowed to do one on one training in someone’s home and I cannot allow a limited number of members into my 8000 square foot gym?”
~Tracey Lamoreux, Snap Fitness
The Board of Directors
Lacombe & District Chamber of Commerce
Mr. Ron Orr, MLA for Lacombe-Ponoka
Hon. Doug Schweitzer (Minister Jobs, Economy, and Innovation)
Hon. Martin Long (Parliamentary Secretary for Small Business and Tourism)