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Coronavirus: Calgary to end state of local emergency, chalk circle pilot project coming to parks

Click to play video: 'Nenshi explains what the ending of state of local emergency means' Nenshi explains what the ending of state of local emergency means
Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi explains what the ending of the state of local emergency means for citizens. – Jun 11, 2020

Calgary’s state of local emergency will be lifting on Friday, nearly three months after it was announced as part of the city’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mayor Naheed Nenshi announced on Thursday that the status will officially be lifted at 12:01 a.m. on June 12.

READ MORE: Coronavirus: Calgary businesses prepare customers for new way of shopping upon reopening

While the state of local emergency is coming to an end, Nenshi stressed that it “doesn’t change anything about the rules under which we have to operate.”

“It doesn’t change anything for citizens,” Nenshi said. “This is something that helps us with the organization behind the scenes. But the rules, the orders, the guidelines are still very much in place.”

Calgary Emergency Management Agency chief Tom Sampson said while they’re lifting this phase of the pandemic response, officials are still concerned about the possibility of a second outbreak of the novel coronavirus.

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The decision to lift the state of local emergency was made after looking at the developments in the province’s response to the virus, as well as the number of total and active cases of COVID-19 in Calgary.

Chalk circle pilot project

People visiting four of the city’s busiest parks in the next few days will be seeing large, white circles painted in the grass as a way to highlight the social distancing measures that are in place.

“We’re taking greater steps to show visual space in our green areas,” Sampson said.

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Bowness, Riley, Prince’s Island and North Glenmore parks will each have about 50 three-metre circles painted throughout their green spaces that will each be the appropriate distance away from each other for people to sit in and enjoy the outdoors.

READ MORE: Police on horseback target busy Calgary parks, watch for physical distancing amid COVID-19

Users are reminded they should only share a circle with people in their cohort.

The paint used will be environmentally, child and pet friendly and the circles are expected to stay in place for about two weeks, depending on the weather and lawn maintenance.

“If the circles work well of course, we’ll continue. If they don’t, we’ll try to find another tool to use,” Sampson said.

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Click to play video: 'Calgary to rehire some laid-off staff back as city rec centres reopen' Calgary to rehire some laid-off staff back as city rec centres reopen
Calgary to rehire some laid-off staff back as city rec centres reopen – Jun 11, 2020

Recreation, pool facilities opening

In coordination with the loosening of provincial restrictions as part of Stage 2 of relaunch, some of the city’s indoor recreation facilities as well as pools will be opening on Tuesday.

Officials said the reopening process will take some time for a number of reasons.

Firstly, many of the facilities have undergone upgrading and improvements in the past couple months because they were closed.

READ MORE: Coronavirus: Gyms, pools, indoor fitness can open June 12 for Stage 2 of Alberta relaunch

Sampson said crews will have to quickly finish up those projects so places like pools can be reequipped for people.

The facilities which are opening — which Sampson said will likely be four to five indoor facilities and pools, two arenas with four ice surfaces, and various dry pads throughout the city — are also doing so with many different protocols and precautions which have to be fully in place before doors open.

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Click to play video: 'Calgary to open indoor recreation facilities on Tuesday' Calgary to open indoor recreation facilities on Tuesday
Calgary to open indoor recreation facilities on Tuesday – Jun 11, 2020

Finally, the city also laid off about 1,200 employees across the parks, recreation and pools departments, many of which have to be brought back to work and retrained and reoriented with the new operating procedures.

The city is also exploring ramping up the outdoor childrens’ day camps programming, however it’s unlikely splash pads will be open this summer. Sampson said the splash pads are set up and maintained by a contractor, and because of COVID-19, that contract wasn’t renewed. Officials will be looking at whether it’s worth the start-up cost and procedures for this summer or of they will save the costs and wait until next summer.

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