More clarity on Calgary’s outdoor COVID-19 restrictions needed: Chiefs

Police, bylaw recognize there's fatigue among citizens for the restrictions, officers, too

This morning Calgary Police Chief Mark Neufeld gave the annual report, which saw decreases in many areas of crime throughout 2020. LIVEWIRE FILE PHOTO

Police said more than 500 calls were made last week relating to individuals violating COVID-19 regulations.

But not all of those were because people didn’t agree with the laws.

Calgary Police Chief Mark Neufeld said on Monday (Dec. 21) said that in some cases, they’re finding that people are disobeying the regulations because they don’t agree with the law.

In other cases, people are just confused.

“What’s clear to me is that we still end up going to a number of the parks and the gatherings and skate parks and that sort of thing where people don’t understand, or they have questions,” said Neufeld.

“I think there are cases with respect to things like gatherings and rinks and what can you do there, where I do think a lot of times people are confused.”

Since the beginning of the pandemic, police have issued fewer than 100 tickets.

Neufeld said that most Calgarians have been cooperative, and the police force will continue striving for voluntary compliance from citizens.

Asking for more clarity from the province

Included in the 500 plus complaints that police received last week were a caller seeing four teenagers entering a house, tenants having a house party, reports of people visiting each other at private residences, and that there are more than 30 people at an outdoor skating rink.

The provincial restrictions around COVID-19 included a ban on all social gatherings, indoor and outdoor. Close contacts were limited to household members only.

However some things remained unclear.

“I think in most outdoor rinks and parks, there does tend to be signage I believe that indicates what people need to do,” said Neufeld.

“But let’s face it, it can be fuzzy.”

The City of Calgary has been working with the province to clarify guidelines around the use of outdoor rinks.

After a video of a 21 year old man getting arrested last week went viral, confusion around the rules resurfaced.

“We are encouraging the province to provide additional clarity to better help the public understand the regulations and to allow us to do our jobs more effectively,” said Chief Bylaw Officer Ryan Pleckaitis.

The province has set capacity limits depending on the size of the rings.

But these limits vary depending on the size of the rink said Pleckaitis.

“Physical distancing of two meters must be followed with those outside of your household at all times,” he said.

Anti-mask met with more enforcement

Two more anti-mask rallies were held over the weekend and both saw more law enforcement. Chief Neufeld attended the Sunday event.

He said their past tactic had been to ticket the organizers of the events in order to create a deterrent.

“That did not seem to be the case. We were still seeing similar numbers,” Neufeld said.

That changed this weekend where their presence was boosted.

Chief Neufeld didn’t have exact numbers, but he believed that around 30 tickets were issued this past weekend.

Organizers behind the Walk for Freedom events said there were altercations with police at the weekend events, but they were eventually resolved.

They acknowledged greater police presence at the rallies and more ticketing.

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