Even with COVID-19 cases counts reaching record highs over the weekend, the city of Calgary has little power to mandate citywide lockdowns.
Alberta logged 919 COVID-19 cases on Saturday and followed that up Nov. 8 with 727 cases. On Nov. 9, there were 644 new cases.
In Monday’s briefing, Alberta Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said a short-term lockdown might be on the table.
The short, sharp economic lockdown would act as a “circuit breaker” to help reverse a recent spike in COVID-19 cases.
Dr. Hinshaw said it’s one of many options on the table and any decision must be weighed against broader issues such as mental health, well-being and community impact.
There are measures in place in Calgary and Edmonton, limiting social gatherings to 15 people.
On Friday, Alberta Premier Jason Kenney pleaded with Albertans to exercise proper precautions and to avoid gatherings in people’s houses. The premier has come under some criticism for not declaring new public health measures to quell the spread.
Not a ‘ton of power’ Nenshi said
Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi said Monday that while they try to keep public servants safe and citizens safe within city services, it’s up to citizens themselves to keep safe.
“The city actually does not have a ton of power here,” said Mayor Nenshi.
“Even if we were to declare another state of local emergency, the ability for us … we couldn’t do a lockdown with our state of local emergency. We need the province to be on board with that.
He said that they’re in regular contact with the province on public health measures.
Calgary’s citizen-facing services like Calgary Transit, recreation centres, libraries will remain open because they haven’t seen a lot of COVID-19 spread in those areas.
“Now when I say that I’m very cognizant of the fact that two thirds of the cases now we don’t know where they came from,” Mayor Nenshi said.
Federal app versus provincial app
While previously the mayor questioned openly why the province didn’t sign on to the federal COVID-19 app, he acknowledged Monday that its more of a notification system rather than a contact tracing app.
The provincial version is a contact tracing app. The province has reiterated their position on this. Apparently the app has been updated so that it doesn’t have to run in the phone’s foreground, Nenshi said.
“So, I’m just telling everybody right now, just download the darn provincial app,” he said.
Mayor Nenshi said that news of a potential vaccine is welcome.
“I know that for many people, today’s news about a potential vaccine feels like the light at the end of the tunnel. But, we’ve got to get through the tunnel,” he said.
“I’m asking people to be disciplined for a little while longer. Discipline is the best vaccine.”