Smoky region remains vigilant during relaunch

Richard Froese
South Peace News

As businesses in the Falher and McLennan areaa start to reopen in the COVID-19 pandemic, local officials remind people to keep safe and obey restrictions.

“The Smoky River region has been one of the hardest hit areas by COVID-19 in the North zone; we would ask that our residents and visitors keep this in mind as we begin to reopen,” says Marcel Maure, director of emergency management for the Smoky River region.

“It is very important that we continue to take every precaution possible; respect the restrictions of businesses, continue to act responsibly by washing hands frequently, ensuring physical distancing of at least two metres whenever possible and by wearing a face mask when physical distancing is not possible.”

After many businesses closed in mid-March by provincial health orders, designated businesses were allowed to reopen May 14 with restrictions.

Many businesses that stayed open continue to use a local restriction to limit the number of customers in a business that started in early April, Maure says.

Capacity and numbers set for restaurants and businesses are regulated by Alberta Health Services and the provincial government.

Although health orders prohibit gatherings of no more than 15 people, that does not apply to all types of businesses.

Maure says the local restriction has helped.

“I believe it had the intended effect, it reduced the spread and flattened the curve,” Maure says.

Steps were taken to respond to the start of an outbreak at the Manoir du Lac seniors’ facility in McLennan, which occurred in early April.

“To be proactive, I went to businesses to discuss how to limit close interaction with people to stop the spread of COVID-19,” Maure says.

“If you can’t have gatherings of more than 15 people, why should we have more than 15 in a business?”

Business owners strongly supported the steps, Maure says.

He says the measures were taken after he consulted the CAOs for the M.D. of Smoky River, Town of Falher, Town of McLennan, Village of Donnelly and Village of Girouxville.

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