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Edmonton patio restrictions eased, city extends state of emergency amid provincial relaunch

The City of Edmonton has extended its state of emergency for another week, in a move aimed to allow city officials more “flexibility” as the provincial relaunch begins Stage 1 on Thursday.

“The relaunch is not straightforward,” interim city manager Adam Laughlin said at a news conference following a meeting of the emergency advisory committee Wednesday afternoon. “We now have to balance the protocols that keep public health in mind with the activities that give businesses [the] confidence they can thrive.”

The city announced several measures Wednesday, including easing patio restrictions as a way to help small businesses increase capacity amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Laughlin said starting on May 19, rules around patio expansions for local businesses will be relaxed.

“This will support businesses in increasing maximum capacity in safe ways and will add to the vibrancy of our city this summer,” Laughlin said.

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READ MORE: Coronavirus: Calgary to allow shops, restaurants to expand patios to allow for social distancing

The rules for patios will be relaxed until the end of the year, Laughlin said, while acknowledging there are a number of space configuration and traffic implications that still need to be worked out.

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“The key message in this is that success of this activity depends on the shared accountability between the city, businesses and Edmontonians. Each of us play a role for this concept to work and we must all play our part,” Laughlin said.

“The city will develop guidelines that establish clear expectations and requirements for businesses. We will provide ongoing support to answer questions and help create the conditions for success.”

Edmonton working on relaunch strategy as it relaxes patio rules
Edmonton working on relaunch strategy as it relaxes patio rules

Businesses will need to go through an application process.

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Mayor Don Iveson said he is “pleased” Edmonton is among the regions to proceed with Phase 1, but cautioned against inter-provincial travel, especially to those in the delayed zones of Calgary and Brooks.

“We want to prevent serious outbreaks that could result in another lockdown and further delay in future stages of reopening,” Iveson said.

Also Wednesday, Laughlin announced the three remaining city-owned off-leash dog parks — Paisley, Manning Village and Alex De Couteau — will open on Saturday.

“We expect that there will be good compliance with physical distancing requirements in these locations like we’ve seen at the other dog parks,” Laughlin said.

READ MORE: City of Edmonton eases more COVID-19 measures; relaunch plans to come next week

He said the city will announce more details around the reopening plans around e-scooters, shared streets, sports fields, playgrounds, skate parks and picnic tables next week.

Laughlin added that the committee will also be discussing animal care and control services, the Edmonton Valley Zoo, EPark fees, as well as city facilities like City Arts Centre, John Janzen Nature Centre, John Walter Museum and the Prince of Wales Armouries.

The city also plans to launch an online guide this weekend to provide detailed information for Edmontonians on reopening and ongoing restrictions.

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