On December 8, 2020, the Alberta Government introduced mandatory expanded public health measures (the "New Restrictions") to respond to the increasing surge of COVID-19 cases in Alberta. The New Restrictions expand the public health measures and state of emergency declared by the Alberta Government on November 24, 2020, and are in effect province wide. The following summarizes the New Restrictions to assist businesses in understanding any New Restrictions applicable to them.
The following businesses and services will need to abide by the following restrictions on the noted dates:
- Effective December 8, 2020, masks are now mandatory in all (a) indoor public places, (b) places of worship, and (c) indoor workplaces and facilities outside the home, subject to certain limited exceptions. The mask mandate applies to all employees, customers, visitors, delivery personnel and contractors.
- Effective December 13, 2020:
- All restaurants, pubs, bars, lounges and cafes must cease in-person dining services. These establishments may continue to offer takeout, curbside pick up and delivery services;
- All entertainment businesses must close, this includes:
- casinos, bingo halls, gaming centres, bowling alleys, and pool halls;
- art galleries, libraries, and museums;
- amusement and waterparks;
- banquet halls, conference centres, and tradeshows;
- theatres, auditoriums, and concert halls;
- children's play centres and indoor playgrounds;
- legions and private clubs; and
- racing centres, horse tracks, and raceways;
- All personal and wellness services must close, this includes:
- esthetics, manicure, pedicure, body waxing, make-up;
- body, nose and ear piercing, and tattoos;
- artificial tanning and spray tanning;
- facial, eyebrow, eyelash, cosmetic skin, and body treatments;
- laser hair and tattoo removal;
- hairstyling and barbering; and
- massage therapy, floatation tanks, reflexology, and colonic irrigation;
- Retail services must reduce customer capacity to 15% of the occupancy set under the Alberta Fire Code or a minimum of five customers. This includes the following retail services:
- retail businesses operating within a shopping centre or mall;
- shopping centres and malls;
- pet supply stores;
- grocery stores and pharmacies;
- clothing stores;
- computer and technology stores;
- hardware, automotive, and sporting good stores;
- liquor and cannabis stores;
- gift shops; and
- Indoor recreation such as gyms and studios, fitness and recreation centres, spas, pools, indoor rinks and arenas must also close;
- Regulated health services may continue to remain open by appointment only, as long as public health orders and sector guidance is followed;
- Professional services such as lawyers, mediators, accountants and photographers may continue to remain open by appointment only; and
- Hotels, motels, hunting and fishing lodges may continue to remain open but are not permitted to provide spa, pool and gym access or in-person dining.
With the introduction of the New Restrictions, the Alberta Government also announced the expansion of the Small and Medium Enterprise Relaunch Grant (the "Grant Program"). Eligible organizations who have experienced a 30% revenue loss due to the COVID-19 pandemic will qualify for the Grant Program. This adjusts the qualification from the previous 40% revenue loss requirement under the Grant Program. This 30% threshold will be applicable to business impacted by the pandemic retroactive to March. Businesses that meet the eligibility criteria of the Grant Program will be able to apply for 15% of their pre-COVID-19 monthly revenue for up to a maximum of $5,000 in funding. In addition, businesses that are affected by the public health orders in effect from November 6, 2020 and later will also be eligible to apply for a second payment of up to 15% of the pre-COVID-19 monthly revenue up to a maximum of $15,000 through the Grant Program.
On November 19, 2020, in response to the continued uncertainty and economic challenges faced by Canadian businesses due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Government of Canada introduced a series of new, targeted supports to help businesses. Bill C-9, An Act to Amend the Income Tax Act (Emergency Rent Subsidy and Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy) ("Bill C-9") introduced the new Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy ("CERS"). CERS will provide direct payments to eligible businesses for commercial rent or property expenses. Eligible business will receive up to a maximum of 65% of eligible expenses until December 19, 2020 and claims can be made retroactively to September 27, 2020.
Bill C-9 also created the new Lockdown Support, which will provide an additional 25% through CERS for qualifying organizations that must close down or restrict their activities under a public health order issued under the laws of Canada, a province or territory (including orders made by a municipal or regional health authority). Bill C-9 also extended the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy ("CEWS") program to June 2021.
Gowling WLG Focus
With the New Restrictions and the rising number of COVID-19 cases across Alberta, we expect that many businesses may experience economic challenges and could be able to take advantage of certain federal and provincial support programs recently introduced, as outlined above. We welcome you to contact us with respect to any questions you may have regarding the funding supports available to assist your businesses through these unprecedented times.
We will continue to provide regular updates with respect to the Alberta Government's response to the COVID-19 pandemic as additional information becomes available.
We invite you to contact a member of Gowling WLG's Alberta Essential Services Team, Zafar B. Jaffer and/or Krista Schofer, if you have questions regarding the New Restrictions and how such restrictions may impact your business.