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Calgary to cancel all public events until June 30 due to coronavirus

All public events in Calgary are cancelled until June 30 due to the coronavirus, the city has said.

The announcement was made Friday, by Calgary Emergency Management Agency Chief Tom Sampson.

“This means that in response to the gatherings even though we’re limited into 15 people, we’ve had to say all of those public events are canceled,” said Sampson.

“In addition to doing all that work, we’ve cancelled any permits that were in place for our parks or facilities.”

It would end all city-run events and nullify the permits of third-party events until that date. Sampson said it would affect roughly 79 different Calgary events and festival.

On Thursday, Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw said there were another 97 cases of COVID-19, bringing Alberta’s total to 968. Of those, 589 are in Calgary.

Dr. Hinshaw did address a question on more aggressive measures Thursday, but not specific to Calgary.  

“We do continue to assess the situation with respect to whether or not any more aggressive measures may be required,” she said.

At Friday’s briefing, Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi said that people might be inclined to have private gatherings. He would prefer they didn’t.

“A lot of folks are saying, ‘well, if I do proper social distancing, and I still have prayer meetings, and I still have a kid’s birthday party, if I do all of that,’ and the answer is really no,” said Nenshi.

“I mean, yes, it’s allowed under the rules, but also only those rules are in place for essential things. And so unless it’s something that’s essential to the well being of the community, then really I’m urging people to just not do that.”

Toronto made the decision on Tuesday

In Toronto, Mayor John Tory announced a similar measure as cases jumped in that city. All city events in Toronto are cancelled until June 30. This includes events like the massive Pride Toronto Festival and the Toronto Jazz Festival.

Many major Calgary events slated to run over the next two months have already made the decision to cancel. The Calgary Expo, Otafest, The Spruce Meadows National are just a few of the major events that took proactive measures to cancel or postpone their 2020 events.

Mass gatherings were limited to 15 people by public order in late March. That made it difficult, if not impossible, for many of these events to proceed.

While June 30 is the current date for the cancellation of public events, it does throw into doubt whether this year’s Calgary Stampede (July 3-12) or the Calgary Folk Music Festival (July 23 – 26) would still go ahead.

“Our decision today does not affect Canada Day or not affect the Calgary Stampede or the Comic Expo or the folk festival,” said Nenshi, then adding a caution.

“We may end up extending the date. As we look at the data as they come in, as we understand where we are on the curve of this pandemic.”