RED DEER -- A local survey shows the negative impact COVID-19 has had on Red Deer businesses. The Red Deer and District Chamber of Commerce released its local COVID-19 business survey results on Wednesday.

The survey, which was conducted prior to stage one of the province’s relaunch plan, showed the negative impact that the pandemic had in terms of layoffs and the reduced capacity to operate of businesses.

“This data will be essential in ensuring our decision makers are properly informed and understanding of the depth and degree of the challenges our business’s are facing in order to make the best possible policy choices to support the economic recovery of our region,” said Rick More, the Chief Executive Officer of the Red Deer and District Chamber of Commerce.

According to the survey, 59 per cent of respondents had to make layoffs due to COVID-19 restrictions and, only eight per cent plan to fully rehire their staff once businesses fully reopen. Additionally, 66 per cent of respondents said they will be able to remain open for less than six months compared to 33 per cent who said they could stay open indefinitely.

More said many businesses are holding off on reopening even once Alberta reaches stage three of its relaunch plan.

“Every business has their own financial issues,” said More.

“We’re finding that some businesses are choosing still to hold back until we know for sure what phase three brings and whether the occupancy levels are worth opening for.”

More added that many local businesses were struggling even before restrictions were set.

“A lot of businesses weren’t in a strong position before March when this all hit,” said More.

“We entered into the COVID pandemic with our economy already limping so we aren’t shocked by the results.”

Stage three of Alberta’s relaunch plan is scheduled to start on June 19.