Some businesses in Alberta are ready to invite customers back after several months of blinds pulled over windows, locked doors and calls sent to voicemail, due to COVID-19 restrictions.
Stage 2 of Alberta’s summer reopening plan allows entertainment venues, closed since last December, to open again Thursday.
Movie theatres, casinos, cinemas, museums, galleries and libraries are free to open at 30 per cent of fire code capacity.
Stuart Passey, general manager of the Cineplex Cinemas in North Edmonton, said staff are more than ready to reopen.
“It’s been a long six months, so we’re super excited to be welcoming our guests back into the theatre,” Passey told Edmonton AM Wednesday.
Passey said he’s encouraging moviegoers to book ahead online but they do accept walk-in customers.
“If you purchase your tickets, our system will actually block any seats around your party so that everybody is safe and socially distant,” Passey said.
The Metro Cinema at the historic Garneau Theatre is getting ready to reopen June 18th for in-person screenings.
Dan Smith, executive director, said the Metro group wants to see how the reopening goes before officially raising its curtain.
Masks and physical distancing are required throughout Stage 2. When going into a theatre, for example, people must wear masks until they’re seated.
Trevor Stride with Plaza Bowling on 118th Avenue and 104th Street, said the bowling alley has retained plexiglass barriers between lanes that were installed last summer and has every other lane is closed off.
Stride said in the past few weeks, they’ve been cleaning, doing maintenance on the equipment and reconnecting with suppliers and staff.
They’re booking groups with up to six people starting on Thursday.
“We recognize a lot of the names that are coming in,” Stride said Wednesday. “It seems like a lot of people who support us on the regular are coming down tomorrow and throughout the weekend to show us some support and hit the lanes again.”
The River Cree Resort and Casino implemented similar measures on a large scale.
CEO Vik Mahajan said there are barriers installed between every slot machine and at game tables.
“We did this once before so we’re ready for it this time,” Mahajan said Wednesday.
The casino has also installed a machine that purifies the air, he said.
With a total floor capacity of 6,000 people in the complex, Mahajan is also expecting a crowd of possibly 1,800 people to return on Thursday.
“There’s a lot of pent up demand — casinos have been closed for six months, so I do expect a lot of people.”
Restaurants are welcoming customers back for indoor dining for the first time since early April, with a maximum of six people per table.
During Stage 1, dining was restricted to patios only for up to four household members per table or three people if diners who live alone were with two of their closest contacts. As of Thursday, people are allowed to dine in restaurants with people outside of their immediate household.
As of Thursday, gyms and fitness studios may reopen for solo and drop-in activities and indoor fitness classes with three-metre distances. Personal and wellness services like hair salons and spas can now accept walk-in clients.
The government says 65 per cent of eligible Albertans have had their first COVID-19 vaccine shot. Launching Stage 2 was contingent on 60 per cent of Albertans aged 12 and older having a first dose.
Stage 3 is expected to begin in late June or early July, if 70 per cent of eligible Albertans have had at least one vaccine dose.