A beautiful spring weekend in Edmonton drew residents outdoors, but a video showing social distancing not being followed at a popular set of stairs in the river valley prompted several local officials, including the mayor, to speak out.
Running stairs in the North Saskatchewan river valley is a popular activity in the city and warm weather on Saturday drew crowds to Royal Glenora staircase near the High Level Bridge.
A video posted on Twitter showed dozens of people using the staircase, coming in close contact with each other despite requests by officials for people to maintain a two meter distance as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
She said for what it was worth, “There are some brutal stairs in the river valley that aren’t the Glenora stairs. Westridge-Wolf Willow stairs are brutal. Used them for training for my Kili hike last year.”
Other options include:
- Victoria Promenade stairs near 119 Street and 100 Avenue
- Funicular stairs near the Hotel Macdonald
- Two sets of stairs above the Victoria Golf Course: one near near 99 Avenue and 114 Street and the other near 100 Avenue and 116 Street
- The Grandview Heights stairs, also known as the Fox Drive stairs, located near Whitemud Drive and Fox Drive in southwest Edmonton
- The Wolf Willow Stairs in the west end, accessible from Wolf Willow Crescent or from Fort Edmonton Park via the footbridge across the river
- Hawrelak Park stairs up to Groat Road
Hamilton also noted it is tempting to jump on folks for not social distancing properly.
“This is a massive social change for all of us and not everyone is going to be perfect at transitioning to our new normal. Be kind and be constructive. Stay healthy.”
Ward 4 city councillor Aaron Paquette also chimed in, saying “Please DO NOT DO THIS. Find a different spot or different time of day.
“You are making things worse and endangering your community. I can not be more clear about that. Practice #SocialDistancing.”
Paquette reminded people to stay at least six feet away from others and keep dogs on leashes.
“Otherwise we trend in the opposite direction our healthcare workers are begging us for.”
There is math behind the idea that cancelling plans, working from home and limiting interaction with others will eventually, ideally, help end the pandemic.
A person who is asymptomatic for five days and doesn’t practice social distancing will transmits the infection to an average of 2.5 people, and those 2.5 people each transmit to another 2.5 people and so on, so within 30 days, 406 people would be infected.
Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer, along with many other health care professionals, has explained many times that the idea behind social distancing is to avoid an exponential rise in COVID-19 cases and “flatten the curve.”
The “flatten the curve” concept is simple: if everyone gets sick at the same time, hospitals will be overwhelmed and people will die without treatment.
However, if everyone does what they can to avoid spreading the virus and “flatten” the infection numbers on any given day, hospitals will have a better chance of giving all patients the help they need over a longer period of time.
Mayor Don Iveson responded Sunday to outdoor enthusiasts, saying it’s a big river valley and asking people to spread themselves out to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
“If we don’t get hold of this thing and fast, more drastic distancing orders could come down,” Iveson cautioned.
The province is set to announce new rules and enforcement this week around COVID-19 social distancing and isolation.
On Saturday, while filling in for Dr. Deena Hinshaw, deputy chief medical officer Dr. Marcia Johnson said a plan will begin to roll out over the next week that will allow public health inspectors to monitor large groups and restaurants and businesses.
Johnson said anyone who is not under self-isolation restrictions due to symptoms or travel can still go outside, but they should remain at a distance from one another.
“There’s also power being provided to the police to deal with, through fines I believe, people that might not be following the recommendations,” Johnson said.
It was a similar scene to the south and west as many people flocked to the mountains on the weekend, much to the bewilderment of residents who live in places like Canmore and Bragg Creek.
- Alberta not reinstating masking in hospitals even as respiratory illnesses increase
- Student violence on teachers is a growing concern. What can be done?
- Indigenous representation in health care improving – but ‘enormous gaps’ remain
- Poisoning, concussions: Why student violence on teachers is a growing fear
In fact, some residents said their communities were downright bustling despite the pandemic and pleas from governments to stay home.
The move prompted Canmore Mayor John Borrowman to tell visitors to stay away.
There were 33 new cases of COVID-19 confirmed in Alberta on Sunday, bringing the total number of cases in the province to 259.
Alberta Health said 18 people are currently hospitalized because of the coronavirus, seven have been admitted to intensive care units (ICU), and one patient has died. That death was announced last week.
— With files from Maham Abedi, Global News