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Grande Prairie area cautioned against false sense of security as province looks to relaunch economy

Grande Prairie Mayor Bill Given says he is optimistic about the province’s plan to relaunch Alberta’s economy but urges caution for residents as businesses and recreational areas start to reopen.

Given says he knows that Grande Prairie residents were looking for some light at the end of the tunnel, and while nothing is carved in stone, he believes it gives everyone something to look towards.

“But at the same time, we shouldn’t be lulled into a false sense of security. We’ve seen other areas across the province where there were low numbers explode very rapidly, and we are the hub of the Peace Country, and there are other areas of the Peace Country dealing with really significant outbreaks.”

On Thursday, the Government of Alberta outlined a three-stage approach to reopening the economy and lifting restrictions on some businesses as early as May 14th. Given says both residents and business owners need to be realistic that the province is still in the midst of the pandemic, and there is no control for the virus at this stage. He believes that a fully normal way of life remains months away.

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“The province is going to continue to monitor the health situation, and we should be prepared that if the situation changes that the province may have to tighten up restrictions again based on local conditions.”

A statement issued by County of Grande Prairie councillors shares the sentiment that protective measures and restrictions will still be needed over the coming weeks and months.

“We know that County residents and businesses have been struggling for the past few weeks under the mandatory restrictions to protect against rapid spread of COVID-19. We have heard loud and clear that many want to see the restrictions lifted sooner than later. County Council will support our residents and businesses while adhering to the provincial guidelines for a phased approach to protect our greatest assets: the people of our community.”

County council adds that it is working on a plan to help local businesses re-enter the marked in a cautious and balanced way. As part of its three-stage plan, the province says safety protocols will remain in place as restrictions are lifted, which include physical distancing requirements of two metres remaining in place and hygiene practices for both businesses and individuals.

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