CALGARY -- With pick ups and deliveries on the rise in Calgary due to social distancing and self-isolation, the Calgary Parking Authority will begin offering 30-minute grace periods in Park Plus Zones and residential permit areas.

The change comes into effect on Thursday and will remain while the city is in a state of local emergency due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Declared on March 15, the state of local emergency is renewed weekly.

Changes to waste and recycling collection

The city is also making changes to the collection schedules for blue, black and green carts.

Normally in April, green cart collection would be changed from every second week to weekly, explained Sharon Howland, leader of program management for waste and recycling services.

"We're trying to keep waste services as normal as possible, recognizing these aren't really normal times," she said, adding city workers will also not collect extra bags of garbage and yard waste, a change announced March 24.

"It's to reduce their interaction with the public, and with various services. We realize this may add some difficulty for some residences that have taken advantage of those opportunities in the past, but we just need to explore all the safety protocols in relation to collecting extra bags before we resume that service."

Making Calgary Transit safer

To reduce the number of people gathering, buildings at the Victoria Park/Stampede, Erlton, Anderson, Heritage and Southland stations will be closed from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. Peace officers will continue to patrol and staff will continue to monitor more than 1,200 surveillance cameras.

Ridership is down about 80 per cent since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Mayor Naheed Nenshi said Wednesday.

Masks now recommended

Based on recommendations from both the federal and provincial governments, city officials are now also recommending the use of non-medical masks or face coverings in crowded public spaces where you can't maintain two metres of space from other people.

"But wearing a mask in public does not mean you do not need to practice other health measures, like physical distancing and handwashing," said Sampson.

The city has declared a state of local emergency in response to COVID-19 and all city-run facilities are closed. Parks and pathways remain open, however Calgarians are barred from being in groups of 15 or more. Playgrounds are also closed.

As of Tuesday afternoon, there are 1,373 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the province and there have been 26 deaths attributed to it.