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Coronavirus: All City of Calgary public events cancelled until June 30

Calgary announces cancellation of public events until June 30
CEMA chief Tom Sampson announces the cancellation of all events and permits in Calgary until June 30, 2020 due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

All public events scheduled in Calgary between April 3 and the end of June have been cancelled as officials work to flatten the curve of COVID-19.

“The City of Calgary has made a difficult, but I think prudent, decision to cancel all public events up to June 30 in order to stop the spread of COVID-19,” Calgary Emergency Management Agency chief Tom Sampson said in a Friday update.

“This means that in response to the gatherings, even though we’re limiting them to 15 people, we’ve had to say all of those public events are cancelled.”

READ MORE: Coronavirus: City of Calgary prepares for post-pandemic economic recovery

Sampson said CEMA also cancelled all permits for events that were scheduled in any city parks or facilities until the end of June.

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Nenshi explains cancellations in Calgary until June 30
Nenshi explains cancellations in Calgary until June 30

Mayor Naheed Nenshi said while the end date for the event cancellations is June 30 — just three days before the 2020 Calgary Stampede is set to get underway — it’s too early to say whether that and other annual celebrations planned for July will be impacted.

“I know that [Calgary Stampede] board and management are taking this decision unbelievably seriously,” Nenshi said.

“Our decision today does not affect Canada Day, it does not affect Calgary Stampede or the comic expo or the folk festival. We may end up extending the date as we look at the data, as they come in, as we understand where we are on the curve of this pandemic.”

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The Calgary Stampede said Friday that planning for the 2020 festivities has been on hold since mass gatherings were banned.

“We will continue to be paused until we get further direction from our government partners,” spokesperson Kristina Barnes said.

“The Stampede is a not-for-profit organization and this decision is bigger than us, as there are many implications for the entire community. That is why we are working closely with our government partners and awaiting further direction.”

Barnes said organizers are assessing “what may be probable, possible and not possible with respect to all programming in the coming months given that the full impact of COVID-19 on the community remains unknown.”

City of Calgary cancels all planned events in wake of COVID-19 pandemic
City of Calgary cancels all planned events in wake of COVID-19 pandemic

Last month, the Stampede laid off 80 per cent of its workforce after it was forced to scale back activity in light of COVID-19.

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Nenshi did say that if major sports teams, like the Calgary Flames and Calgary Stampeders, were to resume their seasons before the end of June, games and mass gatherings around them would be banned as part of the cancellations.

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Meantime, a total of 79 events have been cancelled between now and the end of June, including indoor and outdoor festivals as well as the traditional Neighbour Day block parties that each year celebrate how Calgarians came together to support each other during and after the 2013 flood.

No decision made on Calgary Stampede during COVID-19 pandemic
No decision made on Calgary Stampede during COVID-19 pandemic

Nenshi is asking the public to come up with ways to still celebrate Neighbour Day on the third Sunday of June, but without the mass gatherings. Anyone with ideas is encouraged to reach out to the city by email or social media using the hashtag #YYCNeighbourDay.

The mayor said right now, there are no plans to mirror Edmonton’s move to put restrictions on the city’s off-leash dog parks, but he also didn’t say it wasn’t out of the question.

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He said officials are trying to strike a balance between encouraging social distancing and also giving people a place to get outside and be active.

READ MORE: 65 cases of COVID-19 at Calgary’s McKenzie Towne care centre

Nenshi said as long as Calgarians are respecting physical distancing and not petting other people’s dogs while at the parks, they will stay open.

Calgarians are also encouraged to be mindful of physical distancing when using taxis or ridesharing services like Uber. Sampson said people should take one vehicle per person if possible. When in that vehicle, he said people should sit in the back and in the diagonally opposite seat from the driver to give ample space.

Drive-by birthday surprises

In an attempt to ease the pain some are feeling around not being able to get together with friends and loved ones, especially those celebrating birthdays during this time, the Calgary Fire Department has launched a birthday surprise campaign aimed at brightening spirits.

“We’re launching a program today called Drive-by Birthdays,’ Chief Steve Dongworth said.

Calgary Fire Department launches ‘drive-by birthdays’
Calgary Fire Department launches ‘drive-by birthdays’
“What we’re setting up is a web access where you can go online and [make a] request, if you have a birthday coming up… it’s open to four- to 12-year-olds or some of the older young folks — if you’re 75 or older as well and you have a birthday — you can go to Calgary.ca/birthdaysurprise and you can request a fire truck.
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“We will do our best to get a fire truck on that day outside that house and we’re going to leave it to our crews to be innovative on how they wish you a happy birthday, although it will be with respect to physical distancing of course.”

Dongworth said the program will run until the end of May, but it could be extended considering Friday’s suspension of public events. He added that firefighters are still required to respond to emergency calls, so timing of your fire truck visit may vary depending on call loads.

Online resources

The city also announced on Friday that new online resources would be coming to the calgary.ca/covid-19 page for everyone from seniors to kids to business owners.

READ MORE: Coronavirus: Agencies create essential resource list for Calgary seniors

In tabs on the website, Calgarians will soon be able to find specifics on things like who to call and when, financial relief available from upper levels of government and how to access food. There will also be a section devoted to emotional wellness and mental health.

CEMA chief Sampson issues tough talk on people not following COVID-19 protocols
CEMA chief Sampson issues tough talk on people not following COVID-19 protocols

The city said there will be information for specific groups including seniors, children and youth, newcomers, Indigenous people and families.

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Earlier this week, the city announced major changes to the way Calgary Transit will work for the time being, including fewer buses and CTrains running on routes, and restrictions around seating to encourage social distancing.

READ MORE: Calgary small businesses scramble to survive coronavirus pandemic

The city also reminded residents that places like skate parks and playgrounds are closed to the public.

Calgary reminds citizens playgrounds are still closed
Calgary reminds citizens playgrounds are still closed

On Thursday, Calgary fully closed its entire Plus 15 network in the downtown core as another measure to limit the spread of the novel coronavirus.