Economic relaunch 'does not mean it's go time': Mayor Nenshi
CALGARY -- As businesses in Calgary get ready to begin reopening later this week, Mayor Naheed Nenshi again reminded residents that it "does not mean it's go time."
The province is allowing some businesses to begin reopening on May 14 as part of Phase 1 of the economic relaunch during the COVID-19 pandemic.
"I think it's important for all of us to remember that COVID is not gone, there's still no treatment, there's still no cure, there's still no vaccine, the danger still exists," said Nenshi.
"And it's because of the great work of citizens that we've been able to keep the curve as low as we have ... that we have been able to maintain capacity in our health care system. So what that means is that is that if restrictions are eased later this week as people expect they may be by the province, that does not mean it's go time.
"In fact it means the opposite. It means we have to double down on our individual protection. It means we have to double down on physical distancing."
While the province has released detailed guidelines for businesses, several say they will likely not be ready in time.
An online portal — dubbed ‘Biz Connect’ — lists policies and procedures businesses must follow to address COVID-19 concerns. Among the stage one sectors allowed to open are day homes, day camps, retail stores and salons.
Restaurants are also able to open for dine-in service as early as May 14, however there will be distancing of staff and patrons as well as restrictions on capacity.
Nenshi said the city still has questions around the opening of restaurants, like whether people can meet friends for dinner, or should people only dine with members of their household.
"We're still searching for answers on some of those topics as we speak," he said.
Dr. Deena Hinshaw, the province's chief medical officer of health, said during Tuesday's daily COVID-19 update that she expects if people dine out, they would only sit with members of their household or cohort families.
"Because we continue to advise that when you're closer than two metres to someone, especially sharing food and drink, that puts you at risk of transmitting the virus," she said.
Calgary Emergency Management Agency (CEMA) Chief Tom Sampson said 188 patrols were done in parks by bylaw officers last weekend, giving out six warnings and one, $1,200 ticket, issued at Scotsman's Hill.
Sampson added patrols were also done at 10 skateboard parks in the city and officials are concerned about the number of people congregating there.
"We're worried that if we can't control the physical spacing at skate parks then we're going to have to close them," he said.
Large groups have also been congregating around the Eau Claire Plaza and the nearby pathway along Prince's Island Park, said Sampson.
Gatherings of 15 or more people are still banned in Alberta under provincial health measures.
A reduction in traffic in recent weeks has also meant city crews were able to fill nearly double the number of potholes in April compared to last year.
As of Monday afternoon, there are 6,300 confirmed cases in Alberta, with 4,659 of those considered recovered. There have been 117 deaths attributed to the virus.
Also on Monday, the province announced anyone in the Calgary Zone, including asymptomatic people, can be tested between May 11 and 18, however asymptomatic tests will be limited to 1,000 per day.