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St. Albert business owners say new restrictions should have come sooner

"I felt disappointed they had to wait for that long," said massage therapist.
Blush Hair Company on Perron Street closed before the province implemented new restrictions on non-essential businesses on March 27. BRITTANY GERVAIS/St. Albert Gazette

Some St. Albert small businesses are closing their doors after the Alberta government put new restrictive measures in place.  

On March 27, the Alberta government ordered businesses deemed non-essential to close, following measures previously implemented in Ontario and Quebec.

"The actions we are taking are tough but necessary to protect public health," said Alberta Premier Jason Kenney.

"We understand that behind every such decision lies tens of thousands of jobs and businesses that will throw people into economic and financial anxiety."

RELATED: Alberta closing non-essential businesses; gatherings restricted to 15 people

The restrictions apply to non-essential retail businesses including clothing stores, hobby and toy stores, computer and gaming stores, furniture stores, as well as services in shopping malls and shopping centres.

Close-contact businesses including hair salons and barbershops, tattoo and piercing studios, esthetic services, as well as wellness studios and clinics, are included.

Clinics and non-emergency health services, including dentistry, physiotherapy, massage, podiatry, chiropractic and optometry services, are also included in that order.

Dine-in restaurants will no longer be able to offer dine-in service, though take-out and delivery services will continue to be available.  

These businesses may choose to offer online shopping and curbside pick-up, however, according to a government press release.

The province also announced gatherings are being restricted to 15 people. The 15-person limit does not apply to certain services or facilities, including grocery stores, shopping centres, health care facilities, airports, the legislature and other essential services. 

The St. Albert Centre mall is closed except for essential services, including London Drugs, Morning Sun Health Foods, Bulk Barn, Vitality Health Foods and Cora with Skip The Dishes service. London Drugs has a morning shopping hour for seniors and people with disabilities from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. Monday through Friday. 

'We took it into our own hands'

The new restrictions were welcomed by Brittany Petraschuk, owner of Blush Hair Company on Perron Street in St. Albert, though she said the closures should have happened sooner.

The beauty salon made the decision to close a week ago amid increases in appointment cancellations and challenges to maintain social distancing and being able to get enough sanitization products in high-demand.

"I didn't feel comfortable knowing that if someone came in and passed it on to me, I could pass it on to 20 people a day. I think they should have put these measures in place sooner, but we took it into our own hands," Petraschuk said.

The new restrictions remove the choice for businesses juggling whether or not to stay open or closed, she said, but it is challenging to navigate with little to no revenue coming in. Currently, their only source of income is through gift card sales and product deliveries.

With current conditions, she estimates the salon will be able to survive for the next three months.

"I'm assuming it will be at least another month that we're closed for sure, but I'm hoping if everyone does their part, we can hopefully get back sooner."

Petraschuk urges residents to keep supporting small local businesses as they navigate these current hardships, and once it's safe for businesses to start reopening.  

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"Keep supporting those small businesses as opposed to some of the bigger chains, because those are the businesses that are going to need the help in the long run," she said.

Lianna Bergonia, owner and registered massage therapist at Healing Point Massage Therapy on Liberton Drive, said they made the decision to close on March 18 to keep their staff and customers safe.

She said she agreed the restrictions should have been announced sooner, as a lot of the centre's clients were asking why the business decided to close ahead of time. 

"For myself, I felt disappointed they had to wait for that long," she said, noting it was "impossible" for the massage therapy business to maintain the two-metre social distancing recommendations.

"People were asking us why we were temporarily closed ... looking around, everyone else was open, but we wanted to close to be on the safe side. I think it's too late for them to do this."

The therapy centre opened last November, and Bergonia said it's been especially challenging for new businesses to adapt under rapidly changing circumstances.

She said she is exploring online counselling options for clients, but right now their main concern is how to keep up with their monthly lease payments.

"We don't really know what's going to happen in the future, we're just trying to stay positive in this. We'll see ... if there's at least help with the lease, that would be helpful for us to continue."

Brittany Gervais

About the Author: Brittany Gervais

Brittany Gervais joined the St. Albert Gazette in 2020. She writes about city hall, business, general news and features.
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