As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to change the everyday lives of Calgarians, residents are left to wonder how they can commemorate one of the largest celebrations of the year.
Canada Day is just days away, and this year the city won’t be seeing its usual mass celebration. As restrictions on gatherings, events and operations continue, residents are looking at new and innovative ways to commemorate the occasion.
On June 12, Calgary moved forward with the second phase of Alberta’s relaunch plan, meaning several businesses and organizations, including most personal services, movie theatres and team sports were allowed to reopen.
However, several health restrictions remain in place, including a maximum of 50 people at any indoor event and 100 people at outdoor events as long as physical distancing is applied.
With these restrictions in mind, how can you celebrate Canada Day in Calgary this year amid the ongoing pandemic?
Spend time outdoors
Alberta’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw is asking residents to be mindful of the ongoing pandemic when choosing how to celebrate Canada Day this year.
On Thursday, Hinshaw recommended that residents celebrate the day with members of their household or cohort.
“I know many people are tired of following health measures and physical distancing, particularly as the risk of severe outcomes is lower for those under 60 years of age. However, a lower risk does not mean there is no risk at all,” she said during a news conference.
“COVID-19 loves a party, so we can’t let our guard down.”
Hinshaw noted that transmission rates are lower outdoors as residents can better apply physical distancing. However, while Hinshaw recommends taking the party outside, she also advised against having a barbeque or participating in activities that involve sharing food and utensils to help limit the possibility of spreading the virus.
“This year it’s a good idea for everyone to bring their own food and drinks,” she said.
“If anyone disagrees with that, you can blame me for that recommendation.”
Join in on virtual celebrations
The City of Calgary typically celebrates the holiday with large outdoor events, including festivals and fireworks. However, in 2020, residents are encouraged to celebrate the holiday in a smaller, more intimate manner.
On June 15, the city announced its plans to celebrate the holiday with a virtual concert, featuring performances from Canadian country music star Paul Brandt and Calgary musician Lynn Olagundoye.
The Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama’at Calgary is also hosting a virtual Canada Day celebration, featuring messages from
prominent leaders and a special presentation.
The celebration will broadcast on celebratecanada.ca from 11 a.m. to 12:15 p.m.
Attend a physical distancing block party
The Ironwood Stage and Bar in Inglewood is hosting a physical distancing block party Wednesday, featuring live music that will be broadcast to the entire street.
Officials said patios and businesses in the area will also be open to help residents celebrate Canada Day.
Decorate your home
City officials are asking residents to celebrate Canada Day in their own homes this year by decorating their windows and gardens with red and white.
“Even though we will be at home, we can still celebrate together as a city and country,” Nenshi said.
Residents are also asked to share any at-home Canada Day celebrations on social media by using the hashtag #OCanadaYYC.
Host your own pancake breakfast
It’s a staple event in Calgary, with several pancake breakfasts being held across the city to celebrate the country’s birthday. However, under current health recommendations, the city noted that these events won’t be publicly hosted this year.
But residents can still host their own events with close friends and family.
In June, Hinshaw noted that as the province moved into Phase 2 of its relaunch plan, friends and family can now form cohorts of up to 15 people without applying physical distancing measures.
While residents are encouraged to stay within their cohort rather than interact with others outside that circle, the city is encouraging Calgarians to host their own pancake breakfasts or outdoor picnic in a yard, on a balcony or in the park.
Head to the mountains
Upon advice from health officials and the provincial government, unnecessary travel outside the province is still not recommended, however, local tourism spots are encouraging Albertans to safely visit amid the pandemic.
On June 1, services within the mountainous town of Banff began to reopen and Albertans are encouraged to head to the mountains to explore trails, hikes and the landscapes in the area.
Lesley Matheson, a partnering and engagement officer with Parks Canada, said people will see some changes to popular tourist destinations if they do choose to visit the mountains this Canada Day.
“Visitors should expect increased signage, limited services and experiences and limited parking at popular locations to help ensure physical distancing is maintained,” Matheson said.
“At Lake Louise and Moraine Lake, parking will be managed to ensure appropriate physical distancing can be maintained.”
Matheson added that visitors should expect road closures and traffic management in the area, and noted that shuttle service to Lake Louise and Moraine Lake will be unavailable this summer.
Many businesses and visitor services have also reopened in Banff, Matheson said. However, visitors are encouraged to continue exercising physical distancing, wear masks and gloves whenever possible, bring their own hand sanitizer and stay home if sick.
On June 1, provincial campgrounds reopened at 50 per cent capacity, however, upon entering Phase 2 of Alberta’s relaunch plan, Premier Jason Kenney announced campgrounds are now eligible to reopen at full capacity.
By July 1, the government said all provincial campsites will be open for reservations, however, several first-come, first-served sites opened sooner in Alberta.
Campsites in the province are asking Albertans to be mindful of health recommendations amid the pandemic, including bringing their own sanitizer, maintaining physical distancing from other campers and staying home if sick.
Campsite reservations can be made by visiting Alberta Parks.
— With files from Kirby Bourne Global News