'We can't afford another lockdown': Edmonton business 'frustrated' over video of crowded bars
Video of Edmonton bars and their customers ignoring COVID-19 health restrictions have been making the rounds on social media.
Over the weekend several clips were uploaded showing young Albertans packed into businesses with no masks and limited social distancing.
An infectious disease specialist with the University of Alberta told CTV News Edmonton it’s disappointing to witness the disconnect between what’s happening in day-to-day life and what’s taking place in hospitals.
“It actually gives me chest pain and anxiety because we really can’t take anymore outbreaks,” Dr. Lynora Saxinger said.
“I mean we’re going to have to start triaging care and a lot of the people coming in are actually in those younger age groups.”
According to Saxinger, even though the Restrictions Exemption Program is in place, people are still allowed to enter businesses right now with one dose of protection “which really isn’t great against the Delta variant.”
She also noted the margin of error is far too great for rapid testing in terms of missing someone who could be infectious.
“If a whole bunch of people are packed together in one space like that, and someone kind of slips through those various nets, and you have a large outbreak that is really high risk for us right now because we don’t have any surge capacity at all in the health care system,” she added.
The executive director for Edmonton’s Downtown Business Association told CTV News many businesses are in a tough place right now trying to balance staying open and covering overhead costs while also adhering to provincial guidelines.
“You’re basically telling these businesses you have to turn all these customers away, or you have to put your staff potentially in harm’s way to enforce these rules that nobody understands,” Puneeta McBryan said.
However, one of the co-owners of Evolution Wonderlouge said while he wishes there was more clarity on the current health mandate, they already enforce stricter provisions by only allowing double vaccinated customers into the club.
“By us enforcing it, by our staff enforcing by customers policing each other we’re hopefully going to get to a point where we can at least stay open,” Rob Browatzke said.
IT'S A NO-WIN FOR ANY BUSINESS
McBryan said she sympathizes with businesses as they’ve been trying to stay afloat for the past 18 months, but feels the onus of stricter enforcement should be on the province, not business owners.
“Enforcement is such a burden to be putting on businesses again and again,” she explained. “Business owners don’t want to turn all of that revenue away.”
“I think the province sent the wrong messages in the summer that somehow or other everything was fine and you could go back to normal… I think it’s pretty clear that was wrong,” Coun. Ben Henderson, added.
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Browatzke told CTV News “it’s a no-win for any business” right now.
“It’s super frustrating to see businesses risking our livelihood, the livelihood of our employees, the livelihood of our entertainers and the safety of our entire community,” he said.
“We can’t afford another lockdown.”
(Source: Katy Ingraham/@KatyIngraham)
For more information on the current COVID-19 public health actions and the Restrictions Exemption Program head to the Government of Alberta website.
With files from CTV News Edmonton’s Ryan Harding
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