Ringing in the new year will look very different in Calgary.
Thursday, Mayor Naheed Nenshi announced the city is not going to have any public events due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, calling the move “necessary.”
And the fireworks are cancelled.
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“’We’ve lost so much in this year, can we at least say goodbye to 2020 with some fireworks and see the back of it?’” the mayor said. “Not quite yet.”
The mayor said there are many ways to mark the new year in a COVID-safe manner, encouraging Calgarians to stay home.
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The city’s latest update on COVID-19 and the state of local emergency comes at a time when the provincial health orders prohibit indoor social gatherings and limit outdoor social gatherings to 10 people
The Alberta government is due to re-examine the orders in a couple of weeks.
Newly-named CEMA chief Sue Henry provided an update on the city’s outdoor fire pit program, saying it’s “been a huge success.” Throughout Calgary, there are 37 firepits available to book on a first-come, first-served basis.
“As of this morning, we have had over 900 requests to book one of the 16 fire pits, with firewood, and staff are processing requests as quickly as we can bear,” Henry said.
Bookings for this weekend are closed, with the city taking requests for next weekend.
Henry said the city is adding additional staff and modifying the recreation booking system to accommodate the demand. Bookings can be made a week ahead of time.
“Our goal is to turn around these booking requests quickly, within two business days,” Henry said.
“This program is a great indicator of how important our public parks and amenities are to citizens, especially during this year’s challenging environment.”
Nenshi said there are still opportunities to celebrate outdoors in small groups, including toboggan hills, parks, pathways and outdoor skating at places like Olympic Plaza.
The mayor acknowledged social distancing can “be tricky” when skating, but cohorts gathering outside are limited to 10 people.
“That means there may be more than 10 people on the ice at Olympic Plaza, but there cannot be groups of more than 10,” Nenshi said. “So you can’t have a 50 person birthday party skating at Olympic Plaza outdoors.”