Businesses face two more weeks of closures

By Paul Cashman

Businesses must wait at least two more weeks for any relaxation of public health orders that have closed dining rooms and hair salons and imposed tighter capacity limits on retailers.

At his first news conference since reversing his decision to not discipline MLAs and political staffers for international holidays, Premier Jason Kenney announced current COVID-19 numbers don’t justify easing the restrictions on businesses that took effect Dec. 13 and will now run until at least Jan. 21.

"If we were just to lift all the restrictions and let 'er rip … there's no doubt in my mind we would be back in the kind of exponential growth we saw in late November, early December," Kenney told a Facebook audience on Jan. 6 before confirming his decision the following day.

The move comes as the outlook of Alberta business leaders made slight gains since September but with many still expecting a slow economic recovery, the Business Council of Alberta found in a survey.

The Extensionist salon chain is not happy about the pandemic closures. (Supplied)

The Extensionist salon chain is not happy about the pandemic closures. (Supplied)

The pandemic restrictions have prompted sharp opposition from some business owners, with an Instagram post by The Extensionist co-owner threatening to defy the ban on personal services businesses earning thousands of likes. Megan Lund told the Edmonton Journal she was looking for legal loopholes to allow her to open.

Calgary Herald columnist Chris Varcoe rates lockdowns along with record unemployment at the top of the list of the 10 biggest Alberta business stories of 2020.