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UPDATE: No change to Calgary’s COVID or Omicron response, said Chief Henry

Calgary city councillors heard from emergency officials Monday, just days after the city’s state of local emergency lapsed.

The update was requested for Monday’s combined meeting of council after the update was rejected at Friday’s emergency management committee meeting. Earlier in the week, the city said it would let the state of local emergency, set to end Dec. 2, lapse.

Ward 7 Coun. Terry Wong made the request, hoping to get briefed on the COVID situation – particularly around the Omicron variant. He said Friday that residents have questions about the city’s preparations. Given the upcoming holiday season, Wong said it’s critical residents know the city is on top of things.

“I think it’s incumbent upon Council to receive a formal report so that we are in a better position to inform our constituents as to what else we can tell them we are doing and what they can be doing,” he said.

Emergency management committee chair, Ward 11 Coun. Kourtney Penner asked what more information was required. They get daily dashboard-style updates from the Calgary Emergency Management Agency.

Coun. Wong said the top-level information is there, but it doesn’t include material that answers resident questions. Those questions were around the city’s emergency status and what that meant.

Mayor Jyoti Gondek said that she could add it to Monday’s council agenda. She did add that the daily updates they get are fulsome.

“They are pretty exhaustive. We have also been very communicative with the public about what it means,” she said. The mayor said any update should come to a full meeting of council.

“I don’t know what more we would be seeking.”

Question period

Coun. Wong raised the issue again during question period at Monday’s meeting.

Calgary Emergency Management Agency Chief Sue Henry said public health restrictions are still in place.

CEMA Chief Sue Henry’s full response in Calgary city council

“There is a misconception in the community that the expiry of the state of local emergency is signaling a letting off of our COVID activities. This is not the case. The municipal emergency plan remains activated,” Henry said.

“Calgarians will not experience any change in our pandemic response as a result of the state local emergency expiring.”

Chief Henry said there are still many unknowns with the Omicron variant and its potential impact.

“We know that people are worried about the Omicron variant and the uncertainty that it brings,” she said.

“While we wait for more evidence on what it will mean, now is the time to stay the course. It is not the time to take our foot off the gas. Calgarians know what to do and we have so many tools already established in our toolkit.”