COVID-19: Calgary businesses bracing for mask mandate confusion

Jonathan Kane owns tea shop ‘The Naked Leaf’ in Calgary’s Kensington neighborhood. His business is surviving amidst the COVID-19 pandemic but he says it hasn’t been easy and there’s been a lack of clarity.

“I do think it’s a confusing message.”

Of particular concern, the masking mandate.

The provincial reopening plan takes effect July 1, which includes removing the provincial mask mandate.

Read more: COVID-19: Alberta public health measures to end on July 1

But Calgary has its own municipal face-covering mandate and city council has the authority to decide how long that stays in effect. For now, it will remain until the issue is revisited July 5.

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“It’s been a stress since the beginning,” Kane said.

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“It’s somehow up to us to police what people are doing and it’s always been challenging.

“This is going to be a harsh five days for restaurants and businesses.”

Small business advocates like the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) are hoping for more direction from the province.

Read more: COVID-19: Businesses, residents react to Alberta inching closer to Stage 3 of reopening plan

Annie Dormuth said small business owners are concerned.

“I think that’s where municipalities and the province need to be in sync with one another or support one another in providing that clear communication to business owners.”

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said masking will still be required in high-risk settings like long-term care homes, public transit, taxis and ride shares.

Read more: Masking still required in some circumstances once COVID-19 restrictions are lifted: Hinshaw

She supports the provincial measures and said it’s a personal choice.

“The general indoor provincial mask mandate will be lifted, masking will still be required in limited and specific settings,” Hinshaw said.

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“This is to protect those who have not been able to be fully vaccinated yet.”

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“Masking remains a very reasonable choice for people to make and it’s going to be really important, as we move forward into Stage 3, for people to give each other the space that they need to navigate how they want to manage those risks,” Hinshaw said.

“The province’s recommendations are based on protecting people at high risk of transmission, but as a broad measure, it is reasonable to shift into an approach about what works best for them.”

Hinshaw said she will continue to mask for a short period of time.

“In terms of my own personal choices, I am glad to say I do have my second dose of vaccine now but I won’t yet be two weeks post that second dose on July 1.

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“I will likely be waiting certainly at least until that point in time before I choose to remove my mask.”

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