Hard to believe we’ve been living this COVID-19 reality for 2 months. I’ve only just managed to get a handle on all of the changes and everything is about to change again. Stay home! Get tested if you have symptoms! Only shop for groceries once a week! Those instructions are pretty straight forward and easy to follow, even if they are unpleasant.
Some of the new routines we’ve adopted will likely stay for a while yet. The Plexiglas shields and arrows at the grocery aren’t going to go away any time soon. Visits to the hairdresser, using the office kitchen, and dining in at a restaurant will also require a new set of routines. There are already a number of fun memes on social media imagining what our future might hold. How do we actually prepare though for what’s to come?
What You Need to Know
There will be some new rules in place, which maybe revised from time to time. Only some of those many rules may apply to your situation. The rules that will initially have the most impact on many of us are those related to returning back to work outside our homes. Some of these are focused on employees, while others impact business owners.
Did you know that there are changes to the employment standards? Check out the https://www.alberta.ca/guidance-for-workplaces.aspx for the details. There are also new rules from the Workers’ Compensation Board of Alberta applicable to cases were COVID-19 was contracted as a direct result of your work duties. These are listed here https://www.wcb.ab.ca/assets/pdfs/workers/WFS_COVID-19.pdf .
By far the most numerous new rules are those related to how to safely run your business in the post COVID-19 world. Alberta has set up Alberta Biz Connect at https://www.alberta.ca/guidance-for-workplaces.aspx to disseminate all the new rules. Alberta Biz Connect provides guidance and support to businesses and non-profits. Specific guidelines for various industries and business from hair salons to farmer’s market have been developed and posted. These also are great reading for you as the customer, as they will give you a good indication of what to expect when you frequent the various businesses.
The caveat with these rules is that they are still evolving as we all learn more about COVID-19 and the impacts that relaxing restrictions will have. Often times these updates and changes are announced by federal and provincial officials in the news, on Twitter, and on the government websites. Keeping up on the news and checking the websites should keep you on top of any changes.
Where to Find Timely and Accurate Information
There are many websites available that contain the rules, regulations, and guidelines for our post COVID-19 world. The information covers a broad range of topics and situations. My suggestion is to stick to the official government websites, as well as those of trusted federal, provincial, and municipal institutions. The following are examples specific to Alberta and Calgary. Other provinces and municipalities will have their own versions of these.
Government of Alberta - https://www.alberta.ca/coronavirus-info-for-albertans.aspx includes the Alberta relaunch strategy and guidelines for various industries and businesses on how to re-open.
Alberta Health Services - https://www.albertahealthservices.ca/topics/Page16944.aspx provides the how to’s of COVID-19 hygiene from how to correctly wear a mask to the self-isolation rules.
Calgary Chamber of Commerce – https://calgarychamber.com/covid-19 offers daily workshops to help business owners and information on Government support available for businesses.
For quick updates on the current situation check on Twitter. There are a number of ‘official’ Tweeters providing regular briefings from provincial health authorities to city officials.
For specific information on a business you plan to frequent check out their website and/or give them a call.
What to Keep and What to Change
Do we have to go back to all of the old way just because we’re coming out of social distancing and opening up the economy. Some of us have enjoyed working from home. Some people enjoyed the break from over-scheduled and busy lives. Others have noted that this time has allowed their families to grow closer. Should we just rush back to the way things were before? Working from home has cut down on our commutes, increased our schedule flexibility, decreased the amount of time for outside childcare, and maybe even reduced our clothing and make-up budget a bit.
Some companies, most notably Open Text, have announced that they will continue allowing and even encouraging employees to continue to work from home after COVID-19 restrictions have been lifted. Other companies have admitted that working from home can be done, but they aren’t quite sold yet on whether to allow it to continue. I know that my personal preference will be to work from home at least 3 to 4 days a week. My manager is supportive, but upper management may need more convincing. So what to do? You can talk to your management and executive, write to your local MLA, and build support amount colleagues and friends. Ask that work from home be allowed to continue. Perhaps with all of the other, albeit temporary, changes to our employment laws, the right to work from home could be added in permanently.
The realization that we will not be returning to our comfortable routines from 2 months ago is hard. We’ve already been living with a lot of changes and there are more to come. In deciding our way forward, we need to stay informed through trusted sources, and be mindful of what we routines we keep and which ones to change.
On behalf of WomenIN stay healthy and safe. We’re in this together, at a safe distance.