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Leaders of a prominent Alberta food service union tried Sunday to allay worker anxieties over eventually receiving vaccines for COVID-19.

In a morning general membership meeting attended by about 3,000 workers, United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 401, which represents about 32,000 Alberta workers largely across grocery stores and meat-processing facilities, found that more than half of attendees are nervous about getting immunized for the novel coronavirus.

Surveys among attending members showed only 29 per cent of members would feel comfortable with employers making vaccinations mandatory, and 60 per cent continue to feel anxious about going to work during the pandemic.

Union president Thomas Hesse told Postmedia following the meeting it’s important to address these valid concerns from frontline workers.

“These people are forced to go to workplaces that are essentially public places. It’s like an NHL game, bumping into each other,” Hesse said. “They’re naturally nervous, they’re naturally full of anxiety.”

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Some business owners wonder why they’re not included in province’s first round of relaunch

Nathalie Hunter, owner of Canyon Meadows Cinemas, wants to know why risk in theatres is considered greater than bars and restaurants. Photo by Darren Makowichuk/Postmedia

With restaurants, bars and gyms set to reopen in a week with strict restrictions, business owners who haven’t received the green light say they are puzzled by the government’s relaunch timeline.

Movie theatres and indoor entertainment centres are among businesses awaiting the second, third and fourth stages of the new relaunch strategy, announced Friday by Premier Jason Kenney. Owners say they are disappointed and confused about being left out of the Feb. 8 reopening, adding they have the ability to maintain just as safe an environment as restaurants and bars.

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