As 23 news coronavirus cases were confirmed, the City of Calgary took extraordinary measures to ensure all people coming into the Calgary International Airport isolate for 14 days.
On Tuesday, the province enacted a public health state of emergency putting in additional measures to limit large gatherings. They are now limited to no more than 50 people in all settings aside from grocery stores, shopping centres, health care facilities, airports and other essential services.
“Any other organized gatherings of 50 or more people must be cancelled immediately,” said Alberta’s Chief Medical Office of Health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw.
Hinshaw was able to provide Tuesday’s media update in person as her test results for COVID-19 came back negative.
Dr. Hinshaw said that this measure includes most other facilities, including casinos, gyms, arenas, swimming pools, bingo halls, museums, art galleries and more.
“This prohibition also extends to attending bars and nightclubs, where minors are prohibited by law,” she said.
Province orders state of emergency
Earlier Tuesday, Alberta Premier Jason Kenney outlined the stricter measures in an announcement of the state of emergency.
It was on the recommendation of Dr. Hinshaw, he said.
“Our intention is to limit opportunities for disease transmission by limiting the amount of time Albertans are spending in large crowds and crowded spaces,” he said.
While all sit-down establishments will be limited to 50 occupants at any given time, drive-thru and takeout restaurants will remain operational, Kenney said.
“The government has changed regulations to allow restaurants to engage in off-sales of liquor to liquidate their inventory during this very challenging time,” he said.
The province also announced non-profit organization, including adult shelters, will receive $60 million to provide assistance in their respond to COVID-19. Some shelters have said it’s been a struggle to maintain health protocols during this time.
An additional $30 million will go towards the care of senior citizens and other vulnerable communities.
“The entire government of Alberta is totally focused on dealing with this crisis,” said Kenney.
“This is a serious moment in our history.”
Calgary takes further measures to stop the coronavirus spread
The City of Calgary briefing Tuesday brought together Calgary’s essential services: Police, Fire, Transit and the City itself.
Calgary Police Services and the Calgary Fire Department said they’re operating as normal, and that they’ve been in preparation for the arrival of the coronavirus for several weeks.
Calgary Emergency Management Agency Chief Tom Sampson outlined new measures for travelers with a final destination in Calgary.
“It is hereby ordered, an individual who has traveled internationally, regardless of the mode of transportation, that has arrived in Calgary on or after March 17, and see for whom Calgary is their final destination, shall take all reasonable steps to isolate for 14 days following their arrival to Canada effective immediately,” said Sampson in his new directive.
Sampson also thanked the province for taking more aggressive measures.
“That’s a statement of how important it is for us to have what I would call physical distancing,” Sampson said.
Extraordinary times, said Mayor Nenshi
Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi acknowledged that the speed in which things are happening is “breathtaking.” He said the stress on families is extraordinary.
“These are extraordinary times,” he said.”
Along with the message of clean hands, clear hands and open hearts, Mayor Nenshi added three new things: Stay home. Be kind. Save lives.
“It’s not just about washing your hands and singing happy birthday twice. It’s about enforcing that physical distance to make sure that we’re keeping one another safe,” he said.
“So, don’t act as though you’re trying to prevent getting the virus. Act as though you already have it and you’re trying to prevent spreading it. Act as though every single person you meet is your 80-year-old mom, or grandmother.”