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Bonnyville, Cold Lake businesses having a successful relaunch

Lakeland Family Eyecare has been kept busy since opening for regular business again. Photo by Robynne Henry.

BONNYVILLE – Business is starting to go back to normal for those in phase one of Alberta's relaunch, with precautions in place.

Bonnyville salon and spa Elegance 719 has had a constant flow of customers since it was able to open its doors to customers again.

“One of the things is we’re very grateful to our clients for their patience, because we’ve been trying our best to get everybody through and we’ve had so many clients that had to be cancelled and rescheduled due to COVID-19, shutting everything down,” said manager Tammy Hebert.

While the spa side of Elegance 719 remains closed, they’re offering hair services with limits on the number of people allowed in the salon.

“We’re social distancing clients as much as we can, no waiting room space, for example, we’re not allowing extra traffic flow into the salon and spa. So basically you can’t bring kids or children to your appointment. That’s different for us because we’re very family-orientated and we welcome guests throughout the day, but that part we’ve removed just to ensure the comfort and health and safety of other clients that are coming into the salon,” Hebert explained.

As part of phase one of the provincial relaunch, May 14 marked the first day retailers, such as clothing, furniture, and bookstores, restaurants, among other businesses were allowed to open their doors. Social distancing protocols are still required and many companies have implemented shields, hand sanitizer, and masks for the health and safety of customers and staff.

Lakeland Family Eyecare in Bonnyville has also seen a steady stream of clients since reopening for regular business, though they had remained open for emergency services throughout the shutdown.

“We wanted to stay open to take some pressure off the emergency rooms,” said clinic manager Valerie Power. “Broken glasses would be considered an emergency, people need to be able to see, any eye infections, any foreign bodies in the eyes, if a patient was experiencing flashes, floaters, or anything like that.”

Monitoring patient flow has been important for Lakeland Family Eyecare, as the provincial restrictions only allow them to have 15 customers in the building at a time.

“We’ve also had to change appointment times. We’ve changed them and stretched them out so they’re longer just to accommodate patient flow so we don’t have that many patients in the clinic at once,” Power explained.

Images Studio owner Susie O’Connor said she put similar practices into place at her Cold Lake location. Only one studio appointment is allowed in the building at a time, and O’Connor requires someone from the same household attend the session.

“So, if I’m photographing a grad in a beautiful dress, I require somebody with that grad that can touch. Somebody from the same household so if hair needs to be adjusted or the dress needs to be fluffed, that kind of thing, so I can keep my distance to keep everyone safe,” she explained, adding she’s excited to get back to work and meeting with her clients again.

Gaye Harris, owner and operator of TNT Clothing in Cold Lake, noted customers at her store have been excited to head into retailers and grab some new clothes for the warmer months.

“People are feeling good about purchasing something new and feeling good again,” she expressed. "I think a lot of people are excited about getting back to work and being able to get dressed up again and not be hanging out in their sweats.”

With businesses slowly reopening in Bonnyville and Cold Lake, Harris encouraged customers to shop local as much as possible.

“There’s enough businesses locally, especially ma and pop stores, that need their support in order to keep going. We can’t afford to have another COVID-19 pop up in September and do this all over again because a lot of places won’t make it if everything shuts down again.”

Thought there isn’t a set date yet for phase two, which will see libraries, some large gatherings, and personal services, such as artificial tanning, esthetics, and cosmetic treatments allowed, an announcement on the date for phase two is expected from the province in the coming weeks.

Robynne Henry, Bonnyville Nouvelle

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