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Calgary business owners excited yet wary as they reopen their doors

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It was a sight Calgarians hadn’t seen in two months — patrons seated at restaurant booths, being served drinks while chatting with their friends.

“I don’t like change, so it’s really been hard for me to be isolated, because I’m always out and about,” said Sue McBride, who said it felt amazing to sit down and enjoy a coffee at Higher Ground cafe on Monday.

But for many business owners across Calgary, the excitement of reopening has been paired with the stress of ensuring they can keep customers and staff safe.

On Monday, the city joined the rest of the province in Phase 1 of its relaunch, allowing salons and barbershops to reopen, and cafes, restaurants, pubs and bars to allow table service at 50 per cent capacity.

The day before, Ernie Tsu’s staff went through what he called a dress rehearsal — going through the motions to ensure servers and bartenders at Trolley 5 Brewery are prepared for the extra sanitization and physical distancing measures they’d have to follow as the bar reopened.

“We’re going through a full dry run,” said Tsu, who is also one of the board members of the Alberta Hospitality Association. “We’ve been granted extra sidewalk [for] patio space as well, so we’re just getting that all measured out as we speak.”

Those businesses were given the green light to reopen on May 14 across the rest of the province but the cities of Calgary and Brooks have reopened at a slower pace due to higher numbers of COVID-19 cases in their regions.

As of Sunday afternoon, there were still 629 active cases in the Calgary zone out of a total of 801 in Alberta.

Despite the government’s OK, some business owners are proceeding with caution.

Bruce Campbell, who owns three Red’s Diner locations in Calgary, said it took a month to properly close down his restaurants and said it will now take time to order in food and bring staff up to speed on new safety protocols.

He’ll be taking a phased approach, opening one diner in the next few weeks, and then if all goes well, the others.

“We just want to make sure that we didn’t open and find out we had to close again within a few days or a week,” he said.

Once the diners reopen, customers will have their temperatures taken and will need to fill out a questionnaire before they dine.

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Covid-19 altering Canadians’ housing needs: RBC

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Amid a pandemic-driven shift in demand as well as a surge in new listings, the Canadian housing market remained strong in August, RBC Economics reports.

Citing preliminary data from local real estate boards, RBC said that markets in many areas of the country remained “red hot” in August.

“But the bigger story might be that Covid-19 is now prompting more people to sell,” the report said, noting that new listings surged in urban centres such as Toronto, Ottawa and Vancouver.

“We think this in part reflects the pandemic altering the housing needs of many current owners — who are opting to move, something they might not have considered just a few months ago,” it said.

RBC noted that the Toronto market saw new listings jump 57% year over year in August, powering a 40% increase in home sales.

Sales were up more than 20% from July’s near-record levels, it said.

“Clearly, [that] market has fired on all cylinders this summer, making up for the major disruption caused by Covid-19 in the spring,” RBC said.

The primary drivers of sales activity and higher prices were low-rise homes, including single-detached homes, RBC reported.

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RBC’s customer base makes it a favourite of cyber attacks – security experts

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Royal Bank of Canada is among the most targeted institutions by cyber attacks due to its broad customer base, according to an analysis by Palo Alto Networks.

From December 2019 up to present, cybercriminals have been establishing malicious pages disguised as websites by major companies to conduct phishing attempts and other similarly invasive attacks.

RBC ranked third in the most spoofed domains list, more than streaming giant Netflix and professional networking portal LinkedIn. PayPal and Apple ranked first and second, respectively.

“When you look at the broad customer base that RBC has, it makes sense, especially when you compare it to some of the other big names,” said Jen Miller-Osborn, deputy director of threat research at Palo Alto Networks. “These attackers are going after [domains] where they can make the most money, so they’re focusing on these organizations that have really broad customer bases because that really ups the number of potential victims.”

In an interview with BNN Bloomberg, Miller-Osborn outlined what consumers should be looking out for to filter our fraudulent emails.

“Typically, the ones that are going to be scam-related are trying to invoke some sort of emotional response,” Miller-Osborn said. “So they might say something like ‘Someone tried to change your password, click here to say whether or not that was you,’ or ‘Click here to confirm this charge on your statement,’ or ‘We’ve locked your account for strange activity.’ Essentially, things that will make people anxious and will make them want to click first, and not take a step back and pause to think, ‘Is that really the kind of email that my bank would usually send?’”

Other red flags include misspellings and basic grammar errors in the message, especially the sender line.

“Attackers try to closely mimic domain names, so you might see the number zero substituted for ‘o’, or a one substituted for the letter ‘l’. Little thing like an extra ‘s’ or ‘c’ in the name. These things, people tend to glance over very quickly and not notice.”

Miller-Osborn said that these measures should be done in concert with the most effective step in deflecting a spoofing attempt: Calling the bank and asking them if the email that they supposedly sent was legitimate.

 

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Queen confirms new home at Windsor Castle with Buckingham Palace for ‘selected events’

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The Queen will be returning to Windsor Castle in a matter of weeks, with Buckingham Palace only used for ‘select events’.

Her Majesty and her husband Duke of Edinburgh will first spend time privately at Sandringham when they leave Balmoral next week, Buckingham Palace confirmed.

She had been spending summer at her retreat in Aberdeenshire amid speculation that she would not return to the capital amid the coronavirus pandemic.

A spokesperson said: “The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh will depart Balmoral Castle during the week commencing September 14 to spend time privately on the Sandringham Estate.

“Subject to the finalisation of the autumn programme, Her Majesty’s intention is to return to Windsor Castle in October and to resume the use of Buckingham Palace for selected audiences and engagements.

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