City of Edmonton announces new measures to address rise in COVID-19 cases

WATCH ABOVE: Some recent videos about the COVID-19 situation in Alberta.

One week after Alberta’s chief medical officer of health made suggestions for steps people can take to address an uptick in COVID-19 cases in Edmonton, the city announced it is taking additional measures to address the situation.

“We continue to be concerned by the continuing increase in case numbers,” interim city manager Adam Laughlin said in a news release on Thursday.

“We need all Edmontonians to adhere to the health precautions and practise them daily to prevent COVID-19 case numbers from increasing any further.

“As the COVID-19 pandemic wears on, we will not let it wear down our resolve to protect our city, including our most vulnerable community members.”

READ MORE: Nearly 300 COVID-19 complaints made to AHS since voluntary measures placed on Edmonton 

The city said it plans to increase monitoring and enforcement of public health rules and guidelines at city-run recreational facilities and to make adjustments to the Edmonton Transit Service’s cleaning protocols and service levels.

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New restrictions at rec centres

At rec centres, the city is barring spectators from areas “without designated spectator seating” and limiting the number of spectators in areas where they are allowed to 25 per cent of regular seating capacity, with a maximum of 100 spectators depending on the facility.

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The city said capacity limits have already been posted to arena websites.

In an attempt to mitigate the potential for large gatherings, rec centres will no longer be available for social event rentals until at least 2021.

“Capacity for other indoor bookings and rentals, such as business meetings, has been reduced to 25 per cent of normal room capacity to a maximum of 50 people,” the city said.

New measures ETS is taking to address the pandemic

Without providing details, the city said ETS service levels will be adjusted, “including school service,” to make it easier for people to social distance.

The city added it is bringing in “revised sales channels” for low-income transit pass sales to cut back on the need for in-person transactions.

Bus shelters located near schools that are notified of a school outbreak will now be subject to same-day cleaning and disinfecting.

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READ MORE: 244 new cases of COVID-19, 1 additional death in Alberta on Thursday

Latest COVID-19 case numbers for Edmonton zone

As of Thursday afternoon, the Edmonton zone continued to account for more than half of all the province’s active COVID-19 cases.

Of the Edmonton zone’s 1,497 cases, 49 involve hospitalizations and six people are in intensive care units.

On Oct. 8, Dr. Deena Hinshaw announced new voluntary health measures for the Edmonton zone to try and slow the spread of the novel coronavirus in the region.

READ MORE: Alberta records highest daily COVID-19 case count; Edmonton sees new voluntary restrictions 

She suggested people in the Edmonton zone keep indoor family and private social gatherings to no more than 15 people, wear face coverings in all indoor work settings (except for when a person is alone in a workspace such as a cubicle or an office, or if there is a barrier in place) and to limit themselves to three cohorts.

“While we haven’t seen it reflected in case numbers yet, we trust Edmontonians are getting the message,” Laughlin said Thursday. “Compliance with mask wearing is strong. I trust that Edmontonians will adopt the city’s adjusted measures with the same spirit of shared responsibility.

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“By working together, we can tackle the rising case numbers and contain the spread of COVID-19.”

On Thursday, the city also said it is moving ahead with plans to open temporary housing for homeless people at the Edmonton Convention Centre.

READ MORE: No end date set for Rossdale homeless encampment as Edmonton moves forward with convention centre housing plans 

Last week, Laughlin said the COVID-19 pandemic has “created a gap in services and increased the number of people falling into homelessness each month.”