Board of Trade wants public health restrictions loosened in St. John's, N.L., region

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ST. JOHN'S, N.L. — A Newfoundland and Labrador business group is calling on public health officials to relax restrictions in the most populous part of the province.

In a news release Monday, the St. John's Board of Trade urges authorities to move the Avalon Peninsula area, which includes the capital, to Alert Level 2, the same level as the rest of the province.

The region is currently at Alert Level 3, having moved gradually down from the most restrictive Alert Level 5 after a COVID-19 outbreak swept through the St. John's metro region last month.

The outbreak set Atlantic Canadian records for new daily caseloads and active infections, but active cases of COVID-19 in the province have now dropped to just four following more than three weeks of daily reported infections that have not exceeded single digits.

Moving to the lower alert level would allow the opening of hair salons, bars and in-person dining, all at a reduced capacity.

The Board of Trade says it's grateful for the swift and effective work of public health officials, but the group says heightened health restrictions have been devastating for local businesses.

“Businesses throughout our community have demonstrated they can safely operate in accordance with public health measures," Justin Ladha, the board's chairman, said in the release. “Every day that a business can open its doors and serve customers is a day that matters.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 22, 2021.

The Canadian Press