Alberta Health Services working with business community

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Alberta Health Services, in concert with the Alberta Government, has been discussing a phased re-opening plan for the Province set to commence on May 14. With the uncertainty surrounding the re-opening, AHS representatives have been meeting with municipalities to answer questions and make the transition easier.

On Friday, the Drumheller Mail sat down with Keith Lee, local AHS Health Inspector, and Marley Henneigh from the Drumheller Chamber of Commerce to discuss the imperatives for businesses looking to re-open.

Keith Lee, of AHS, says that the most important thing business owners can do right now is to read and keep before them the “Workplace Guidance for Business Owners” document and the “Alberta Re-Launch Strategy” document, which can both be found at the alberta.ca/covid webpage, in the Alberta Biz Connect section. The former document contains the most important information for businesses to be aware of as they consider re-opening.

The second thing Lee noted as being imperative is for businesses to document their plan to keep their workplace safe for employees and patrons, and to continually monitor that plan. Policies and procedures must be written, and must be implemented prior to opening.

It is also important to note, says Lee, that businesses are not required to re-open if they feel it is too soon or that they are not ready for re-opening. However, if choosing to re-open, businesses should go through the “Workplace Guidance” document point-by-point to ensure a clear plan is in place.

As it is now, social distancing requirements are still in place, meaning that business operating procedures will need to be adjusted to allow for two meters of distance between patrons. Therefore, even though 15 people may have previously been able to fit inside a business, the capacity might be much lower with social distancing measures.

Business owners may be wondering if PPE is required, and Lee indicates that PPE will look different depending on the business. For businesses such as dentists, the highest forms of PPE will be required. Other businesses, such as retail, where contact is not essential, may choose to use sneeze-shields and therefore would not require the same level or type of PPE. Patrons and staff should still be screened to ensure they have not recently been sick or out of the country. As well, cleaning measures need to be in place so that they are not relying on PPE to keep the business safe.

Once a plan is established and implemented, business owners should continually assess the measures in place, and be prepared to adjust as necessary. If it is determined that the original plan was too stringent, the plan can be adjusted. Likewise, business owners may feel that stricter guidelines need to be enacted once the plan is underway.

The full interview can be found on the Drumheller Mail Facebook page.