The Grande Prairie and District Chamber of Commerce is asking the provincial government to outline a plan that would see businesses reopened, and staff returning to work. In a letter to the Office of The Premier, as well as the offices of the MLAs for Grande Prairie and Grande Prairie-Wapiti constituencies, the chamber calls for more information and scientific data to be released.
Larry Gibson, Chair of the Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors says he wants to see more specifics around why certain closures are being made, and the data that supports those decisions.
“We wanted to address a couple of things. One was around why certain sectors have been targeted when the data may be showing that there weren’t as many cases— or any cases, linked to those sectors.”
Gibson adds another approach he would like to see considered is one that strays from a one-size-fits-all across Alberta.
“In the areas with the dense populations, they are having some cases increasing but in the less populated areas we’re able to contain it and we don’t have the impacts on our hospital systems, as well as the case, counts that they’re seeing in the larger areas,” he says.
The Province of Alberta enhanced restrictions on several business industries effective December 13th, including but not limited to retail, hospitality, entertainment and recreation, personal health and wellness, and sports. Restrictions ranged from strict and direct closures to occupancy limits of 15 per cent of fire codes.
Gibson says he has heard feedback from business owners who feel they are being “judged by a different standard” because of the nature of their sector and industry.
“The concerns are that they’re feeling that they’re unfairly being punished because of their sector when the data isn’t there to support why they were targetted in the closure.”
“The sectors that are closed, they’re just looking for answers to why those decisions were made and if there is potential that they can get a reopening even if it is with some restrictions and meeting those same reduced capacities that were imposed into the retail sector,” he says.
Gibson explains he believes an optimal scenario would be to see a plan to get businesses back open and employees back to work or receiving an explanation and the data as to why certain businesses must remain closed.