Alberta Proceeding with Stage One of Relaunch14-May-20
by the McLennan Ross Labour and Employment Team
On May 13, 2020, the Government of Alberta announced that it will proceed with the first stage of the province’s three-stage relaunch strategy, allowing some businesses to reopen and resume operations beginning May 14, 2020. However, businesses operating in Calgary and Brooks will be subject to a separate, gradual and region-specific relaunch strategy, due to the number of COVID-19 cases in these locations.
Alberta businesses, outside of Calgary and Brooks, eligible to reopen under the first stage include:
- Retail businesses such as clothing, furniture, and bookstores;
- Hair salons and barber shops;
- Museums and art galleries;
- Non-urgent surgeries, dental clinics, physiotherapy, optometry, and chiropractic services;
- Places of worship and funeral services;
- Daycares with limits on occupancy;
- Summer school and day camps with limits on occupancy; and
- Cafés, pubs, bars, and restaurants at 50 percent occupancy
For businesses operating in Calgary and Brooks, the first stage of the relaunch strategy imposes the following three staggered dates:
- On May 14, 2020, retail businesses, daycares with limits on occupancy, and museums and art galleries may reopen;
- On May 25, 2020, hair salons and barber shops, and cafés, pubs, bars, and restaurants at 50% occupancy may reopen; and
- On June 1, 2020, places of worship and funeral services, and day camps and summer schools with limits on occupancy may reopen.
Businesses seeking to resume operations under the first stage will face the obligation of ensuring compliance with the requirements of the province’s relaunch strategy. In conjunction with the provincial relaunch strategy, on May 11, 2020, the Government of Alberta launched the online platform “Alberta Biz Connect” as a resource for Alberta businesses in anticipation of the first stage of the relaunch. Alberta Biz Connect provides both general and sector-specific guidelines and operation plans for businesses that are able to resume operations in stage one of the relaunch. These guidelines have been created to ensure compliance by Alberta businesses with current public health orders and legislation, and to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace to both employees and patrons.
The mandate of the general guidelines is to provide all businesses with direction on: communication in the workplace related to COVID-19; responses to sick staff and volunteers; and the prevention of the spread of COVID-19.
Employers are obligated to determine if their business is ready to open and to ensure all provincial guidance can be met. Generally, the guidelines and operation plans set forth requirements for employers to follow and uphold while operating during the pandemic. These requirements under the general guidelines include, but are not limited to:
- Notifying employees and patrons of the steps taken by the business to prevent the risk of transmission of COVID-19;
- Notifying employees and patrons what steps they can take to mitigate the risk of transmission of COVID-19;
- Posting signage with necessary information about COVID-19, as provided by the Government of Alberta;
- Preparing for increases in absenteeism due to illness among employees and their families;
- Conducting daily screening of employees and patrons for symptoms of COVID-19;
- Implementing systems that allow employers to track where and with whom an employee was working for the purposes of contact tracing;
- Ensuring social distancing of employees and patrons in the workplace;
- Eliminating or re-structuring non-essential gatherings, such as meetings and training;
- Creating physical separation through barriers (Plexiglas), signage, and floor markings; and
- Using personal protective equipment (PPE).
In addition to these general guidelines, the sector-specific guidelines, operation plans, and current public health orders impose further and more specific restrictions and requirements on particular businesses.
Understandably, the relaunch of the province creates concern and uncertainty for employers around complying with the Government’s guidelines and public health orders, adjusting to ongoing provincial updates, and preventing the transmission of COVID-19 among both employees and patrons. Should you have any questions regarding the provincial relaunch strategy or how the province’s guidelines specifically apply to your workplace or industry, please contact any member of our Labour & Employment team.
For further information and a review of legal considerations relevant to employers who wish to resume operations, see our article “Return to Normal: How to Prepare for Resuming Business Operations”.