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Covid-19: Tweaks made to Calgary’s vaccine passport bylaw

Calgary’s Covid-19 vaccine passport bylaw got a booster shot Tuesday, aligning it better with provincial health regulations.

Calgary city councillors got an update prior to voting on the bylaw revisions at Tuesday’s combined meeting of council.

Essentially, the city’s bylaw was changed to evolve with and match changing orders from Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer of Health. It included changes to the definition of eligible businesses and eligible persons and proof of vaccination requirements. It also addressed age and identification requirements.

“This would mean that should these definitions be amended under the provincial program, the new definitions would be incorporated by reference into the Calgary’s bylaw, eliminating the need for further bylaw amendments,” said Matt Zabloski with City of Calgary Community Standards.

“This will more closely tie Calgary’s bylaw to the provincial program.”

Sit-rep for Calgary

Calgary Emergency Management Agency Chief Sue Henry provided an overall look at the Covid-19 situation in the city.

“We’ve seen cases skyrocket in an unprecedented trajectory over the last several weeks driven by the omicron variant, which quickly rose to become a dominant strain in Alberta and across Canada,” said Calgary Emergency Management Agency Chief Sue Henry.

She said Calgary is bearing the brunt of new cases being reported.

“The Calgary zone has jumped from about 1,700 cases to over 27,000 cases in less than a month, which is roughly half of the all active cases in the province,” Henry said.

Chief Henry also said the testing positive rate has also skyrocketed. Calgary’s seven-day positive rate is at 43 per cent, she said. Prior waves saw that seven-day rate max out at 13 per cent.

Henry said the big question is around the severity of outcomes and the impact on health care. She said some countries are managing relatively brief waves and lesser impacts on health care.  Other countries, including parts of the United States, are seeing hospitalizations and ICU admissions near previous highs, Henry said.

“It remains to be seen what the impact will be here in Alberta. Although omicron may cause less severe outcomes, the sheer quantity of cases is still likely to strain the healthcare system,” Chief Henry said.

Roughly 82 per cent of citizens are fully vaccinated and 88 per cent have one shot. That value represents everyone five and over who is eligible for the vaccination.

The city’s mobile vaccination program, initially set to end in December, will now run until at least February.

Impact on Calgary services

Chief Henry said that citizens may have already noticed service impact at the City of Calgary.

She said they’re updating information regularly at Calgary.ca. There are contingency plans in place in each department.

“We do expect this information to be fluid as our staffing levels and circumstances change,” Henry said.

Ward 11 Coun. Kourtney Penner asked specifically about impacts to Calgary Transit.

Staffing challenges have forced “minor” modifications to the Calgary Transit schedule, admin said. Admin said they don’t believe those changes would have a major impact on riders.

Penner wanted the city to push the messaging on route changes or closures (like in recreation) through all possible means. She said while it’s good information is going out on social media, not everyone has access.