Letter to Premier Kenney regarding current COVID-19 restrictions

The Hinton & District Chamber of Commerce sent the attached letter out today to the Office of the Premier with an urgent request to reconsider the current COVID-19 restrictions.

January 19, 2021
January 19, 2021

January 18th, 2021
Office of the Premier Executive Branch
307 Legislature Building
10800 – 97 Avenue
Edmonton, AB T5K 2B6

Dear Premier Kenney,

On behalf of the Board of Directors and members of the Hinton & District Chamber of Commerce we would like to voice our concerns with the current COVID-19 restrictions and the negative impacts they are having on our business community. These businesses have had an incredibly difficult year and they feel a lack of guidance and direction coming from government right now. Some concerns with the current restrictions include:

· No timelines on when businesses in impacted industries will be allowed to reopen. This has made it extremely difficult to budget and do forward planning

· Having such strict measures in place province-wide puts smaller population densities and areas with lower confirmed COVID-19 cases at a disadvantage

· Restaurants struggle with not being able to seat customers, but yet had taken extreme measures to keep their customers safe with the prior restrictions

Businesses who have been forced to close had been following all proper health protocols. They implemented new processes and procedures, got innovative and creative and spent valuable time and resources to protect their customers and keep their business operating. This is very frustrating for business to only be shut down again with no clear direction on when they will be allowed to resume operations. 

We respect that there needs to be a balance between keeping our economy going and keeping our Albertans safe. However, not all communities should have the same restrictions. We ask that you consider different restrictions for communities like ours that are many miles away from large urban centres and have a small per capita number of active cases.

Based on a recent survey done with businesses in our region by the Whitecourt Chamber of Commerce, over 83% of respondents have stated that their business has been negatively impacted by the restrictions, with 69% stating they would like actions to reduce the current restrictions. Many of these businesses have poured their life savings and time to try and make it through the pandemic and although government support programs have been a temporary relief, it does not make up for the costs endured and the ongoing uncertainty they are faced with.

On behalf of our membership, we ask that you reconsider existing restrictions and implement a plan that will keep Albertans safe while allowing the business community to maintain their livelihoods and allow them to continue to operate in a safe capacity.

Yours truly,

Tracy Sheppard, President

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