CALGARY -- The state of local emergency is being lifted in Calgary at 12:01 a.m. Friday, but officials say physical distancing must continue and the pandemic is far from over.

"We have to recognize the battle is not over," said Mayor Naheed Nenshi.

"We have in fact, across the province, seen a small increase in the daily cases and we're back up to the levels we were at a few weeks ago. So that reminds us as restrictions are being eased, we still have to be very disciplined."

The move comes as Alberta prepares to move into Phase 2 of the economic relaunch, with more businesses allowed to begin reopening on Friday, as long as two-metre physical distancing is observed.

Some of those businesses include:

  • Potential reopening of K-12 schools
  • Gyms and recreation centres
  • Libraries
  • Additional surgeries
  • Casinos
  • Health services like acupuncture and massage therapy
  • Personal services such as manicures, pedicures and tanning
  • Movie theatres and live theatres

The state of local emergency was declared on March 15 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and was renewed weekly for nearly three months.

Lifting the order, "ends some things ... but actually doesn't change anything for citizens," said Nenshi.

"This is something that helps us with the organization behind the scenes, but the rules, the orders, the guidelines are still very much in place," he said. "And we will continue to act as we need in being a partner to the province on this work."

Albertans are encouraged to stay at least two metres away from other people while in public and to wear a mask when that isn't possible.

Nenshi said he would prefer if masks were made mandatory in places like public transit and it's something city officials are considering.

"I absolutely think they should be mandatory, that said, that is a provincial call to determine whether or not they should be," he said.

"We do not believe that even under a state of emergency the city has the right to make them mandatory, generally. Can we make them mandatory on city property, including transit? That's a different question and it's one that is certainly being explored right now.

"But ultimately it's up to citizens. If citizens actually wear them then we don't have to worry about this conversation, but the prevalence of mask wearing on transit has been far lower than I would like."

Some people may be nervous in the initial days of Phase 2, said Calgary Emergency Management Agency Chief Tom Sampson.

"For some of you this could not have happened soon enough and for others, you're nervous and feel like it's happening too quickly," he said.

"I know from a personal perspective, my jury is still deliberating and I watch daily the number with great interest, because of course, my concern is for you is that we not go into a second outbreak of COVID."