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Public safety remains priority in pandemic; Hunter

Posted on December 3, 2020 by admin

Justin Seward
Southern Alberta Newspapers

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney declared the province’s second state of public health emergency on Nov. 24 due the significant uptick in COVID-19 cases in recent weeks.

“One of the things that I think most people who listened to the Premier and Dr. (Alberta’s chief medical officer of health Deena) Hinshaw saw was that they have gone to great lengths to be able to really think this one through,” said Taber-Warner MLA Grant Hunter.

“We’ve got some data behind us now. We’ve almost got nine-and-a half months of data that helps us be able to craft a go forward strategy and I think they’ve agonized about how to be able to find a balance between saving lives and saving livelihood. This is something the Premier and Dr. Hinshaw have worked really hard to try and find that balance and I think they were able to accomplish that.” Municipalities under the enhanced purple zone will have to follow guidelines at places of worship having one-third of its attendance with mandatory masking and restricted access to small businesses taking effect on Nov 27.

“One of the measures that we looked at was to figure out how we can make sure that we’re keeping people safe,” said Hunter.

“But at the same time we want to make sure that our businesses are able to make it through this Christmas season. Most businesses, if they don’t have a good Christmas season in terms of sales, they will not survive. The struggle that businesses have had to deal with over the last year now has been monumental. We didn’t want to exacerbate that problem.

“We want to make sure first of all it’s a fair playing field. I know that when we first looked at this, some of the big box office companies were allowed to stay open-the Walmarts, Costcos-where the small ones were shut down. We took a look at it and I thought that’s not the right approach.” Small businesses remaining open were a huge factor in the final decision.

“Small businesses are disproportionately affected by this sort of cataclysmic pandemic, just because they don’t have the same kind of margins that they can work on,” said Hunter.

“Economies to scale (the cost advantage by a firm when it increases its level of output), they don’t have. Whereas the Costcos and Walmarts, obviously they’re being affected by this, but they are dealing with an economy to scale that small businesses aren’t.” The three week restrictions are in place in hopes of keeping the ICU numbers down and not overwhelming the health care system.

“That’s really why these measures had to be brought in,” said Hunter.

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