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State of local emergency declared in Calgary due to coronavirus pandemic

Recreation centres and public libraries will be closed as Calgary declared a state of local emergency and took further action to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

Sunday afternoon, Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw updated media on the number of cases, now totalling 56 in Alberta. There were 17 new cases confirmed in the past 24 hours.

At 8:51 p.m.  Sunday, Calgary Emergency Management Chief Tom Sampson said a state of local emergency had been declared.

This declaration allows the city to take direct action in certain areas.

Facility closures in Calgary

In doing so, as of 12:01 a.m. March 16, the following facilities were closed:

  • City owned recreation facilities
  • All city-owned and operated fitness facilities, fitness centres, pools and arenas
  • Eau Claire YMCA,
  • Glencoe Club
  • Calgary Winter Club
  • Remington YMCA at Quarry Park
  • Shane Homes YMCA at Rocky Ridge
  • Brookfield YMCA at Seton
  • Westside Recreation Centre,
  • Melcor YMCA at Crowfoot
  • Shawnessy YMCA
  • Saddletowne YMCA
  • Cardel Rec south, which includes the south Fish Creek Rec Association
  • Vivo Centre
  • The Genesis Centre
  • Trico Family Centre
  • Repsol Centre
  • Calgary Public Libraries

Further, Chief Sampson said occupancy for all other facilities is 50 per cent of their regular fire code occupancy (example, fire code says 100, only 50 people allowed in that location).

There are exemptions: grocery stores, food stores, shopping centres, big box commercial centres, casinos, pharmacies, airport and offices. Also, public transit, Alberta Health Services locations, shelters and care centres are included in the exemption.

“We’re hoping that our office community will work towards sending people home, having them work remotely wherever possible,” Sampson said.

“So, we’re not including them in the order at this time, so they get that exemption, but we’re hoping that they move in that direction, immediately.”

‘Intentional over-reaction’ said Mayor Nenshi

Mayor Naheed Nenshi said with news of the community spread in Calgary, and under the advice of Dr. Hinshaw, it was time to take the next steps.

“When I last spoke on Thursday, I talked about intentional overreaction. And that really is what we are looking at doing today,” said Nenshi.

He said it was a very difficult decision to close the city facilities, but they said it was necessary to help stop the spread of the coronavirus.

“This is tough. People rely on these services as outlets for themselves, as places to go, for many, many people they are, in fact, lifelines,” said Nenshi.  

“Given the announcement today of the closure of schools, we simply will not have the capacity to keep people safe in these facilities.”

‘time for good, old-fashioned family’

With kids now not in school, Sampson was asked that with all the closures, what are parents supposed to do to keep kids occupied.

“I think we’ve got a wonderful park system in this city and pathways,” he said.

“You know what we can get out, we can do things. This is almost time for good, old-fashioned family,” he said.

“Getting out with friends, appropriate physical distancing. But that’s a great time to do those things. Let’s hope not just Netflix and movies and those sorts of things, but getting outside and doing some things, keeping your team healthy.”