No new health restrictions announced in Calgary, though spike in COVID-19 cases ‘extremely concerning’
Mayor Naheed Nenshi and CEMA Chief Tom Sampson are scheduled to provide an update on Calgary's COVID-19 response Wednesday afternoon (file)
CALGARY -- Calgary's mayor and the head of the city’s emergency management agency provided an update on current health restrictions and say Calgarians need to “tighten up” to help slow recent increases in COVID-19 cases.
But the city is not announcing any new health restrictions as cases rise.
“I didn’t want to be back on this stage,” Mayor Naheed Nenshi said Wednesday. “But no, we’re not announcing further restrictions today in the city.”
Nenshi and CEMA Chief Tom Sampson says city officials applaud the province’s latest gathering restrictions in Calgary and Edmonton, which cap social gatherings at 15 people.
“The spike (of COVID-19 cases) is extremely concerning,” Sampson said.
“This second wave of COVID is a wake up call for all of us.”
Ahead of Wednesday afternoon’s COVID-19 update, the Calgary Zone accounted for 1,672 of the province’s 4,738 active cases. Forty-six people in the Calgary Zone are in hospital and four are in the ICU.
On Monday, Dr. Deena Hinshaw announced new mandatory gathering restrictions for the cities of Calgary and Edmonton. Social events are restricted to a 15-person limit but do not apply to restaurants, bars, worship services or funeral and wedding ceremonies.
Physician groups have said the new gathering limits don’t go far enough.
"I think the only way to manage this is through strong health regulations that are mandated and we're not there yet. So we do need stronger recommendations," said Dr. Joe Vipond, an emergency room physician at Calgary's Rockyview General Hospital.
"I think it can be debated whether the 15 number is low enough. I think it could be dropped I don't really see a need for people to be gathering in such numbers at this point in time."
The province says just one per cent of all active COVID cases have been linked to restaurants in the last two weeks, although an infectious disease expert expects more to occur if proper physical distancing isn't enforced.
Craig Jenne with the Cummings School of Medicine says that it can be difficult to contain the virus in cramped indoor public spaces, but a 15-person cap should help.
"If the virus is accidentally introduced into your cohort or into your group, it doesn't need to spread very far," said Jenne. "So if there's only 15 in the room, then we know that that's where the outbreak is limited."
The City of Calgary's mandatory mask bylaw will remain in place until at least the end of December.
“There’s a lot of work left for us to be able to do,” Nenshi said. He added that he and Sampson are urging the Alberta Government to opt into the federal COVID-19 contact tracing app.
The city will provide more details on its update to the COVID-19 response plan scheduled for noon Wednesday. A livestream of the announcement will be available here.