Calgary’s mayor is asking the Alberta government for clear directions on how the economy will be gradually reopened in the coming weeks.
Mayor Naheed Nenshi said Tuesday that’s he’s heard from some businesses owners who are preparing for potentially reopening later this month but who don’t understand what restrictions they will have to follow.
Last week, Alberta Health announced a gradual reopening of the economy, tentatively beginning on May 14 with bookstores, restaurant dining rooms and hair salons, among other businesses.
That’s a concern, Nenshi said, given Calgary is the epicentre of Alberta’s COVID-19 pandemic.
After the first stage, the Alberta government has laid out plans to potentially reopen more businesses and public services. Nenshi said he wanted to know how the province would decide that’s safe to do.
“I’ve heard some sources, even within the government, imply that the next stages could come just a couple weeks later,” Nenshi said. “Let me be clear, that would be a mistake.”
Nenshi said he would want to see cases decline in Calgary for at least two weeks to a month or more before restrictions are lifted.
The Calgary zone, which stretches beyond the city limits, has the bulk of cases in Alberta. As of Monday, the Calgary zone has 3,905 positive cases out of the 5,836 provincewide.
Nenshi and Calgary Emergency Management Agency deputy chief Sue Henry held a press conference Tuesday afternoon, which was streamed online by CBC Calgary.
During the session, Nenshi said he’s heard that restaurant owners aren’t clear about how many patrons they will be allowed to let into dining rooms. He also questioned whether malls could open if retail stores will be allowed to, and if businesses will be exempted from the 15-person gathering limit.
“No business is required to open,” he said. “It’s a decision you have to make yourself.”
Over the past weekend, officials issued three tickets they say were related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
One ticket was issued to a youth who was allegedly skateboarding on a closed water feature near Riley Park.
Two other people were ticketed after officers found them allegedly smoking a joint on a bench on Crescent Road. The adult man received a physical distancing ticket and the youth received a ticket for smoking cannabis in public.
Nenshi said that since skateparks reopened last weekend, he’s received several poor reports back from officials. He warned constituents that it’s hard to trace how COVID-19 spreads through public spaces, so that’s why it’s important people follow physical distancing and hand hygiene while at parks.
“If you don’t know by now, you’re being deliberately ignorant,” Nenshi said. “At some point, we can’t do education anymore. It has to be enforcement.”
Calgary officials received more than 80 public complaints related to the pandemic on the weekend.