As the debate over mandatory masks continues in Grande Prairie, Minister of Jobs, Economy, and Innovation Doug Schweitzer says he is proud of the work done by Albertans thus far, and can’t foresee a return to tighter restrictions.
“I think we would have to see some catastrophic numbers before we would ever look at going back,” Schweitzer says. “We had the lightest touch in the country when it comes to restrictions and we’ve opened up faster than most areas in North America.”
When the pandemic began in March, Schweitzer says the government was quick to respond, with the closure of nearly all non-essential businesses, as well as banning the gathering of large groups. Fast-forward six months, and he believes the struggle for many has paid off with a return to near-normal levels of activity.
However, Schweitzer argues general public deserves the majority of the credit, as he says they listened intently to the instruction of the province’s Chief Medical Officer of Health.
“They were wearing the masks when required, they were social distancing, businesses are putting the plexiglass up, doing the extra cleaning,” he adds. “People have kind of gotten used to what it is like to be in the pandemic over the last five or six months, we are functioning pretty well.”
Schweitzer says despite some sectors of the economy, including tourism, oil and gas, and entertainment, faltering during the first half of the year, some other sectors, like forestry in the Grande Prairie region, have been able to pick up the slack in helping the overall plan to get Alberta back on its feet.
“Forest products are doing pretty well in this environment because more people are buying products from Amazon, which requires more boxes and more fibres to be used for certain products,” he says. “We are also seeing logistical companies doing well, even though our airlines used for personal travel are hurting, you’re seeing logistical ones which transport goods doing well.”
Alberta moved into phase two of its three-phase re-launch strategy on June 12th.