Calgary

Tough COVID restrictions necessary as things spiraled out of control, says Nenshi

One day after the Alberta government introduced tough new measures in an effort to fight surging COVID-19 cases, Mayor Naheed Nenshi said things had spiralled out of control and the restrictions were necessary. 

CEMA chief Sue Henry says people have to keep their heads as city digests new rules

Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi said new restrictions were necessary, but he knows they will be hard for many. (Mike Symington/CBC)

One day after the Alberta government introduced tough new measures in an effort to fight surging COVID-19 cases, Mayor Naheed Nenshi said things have spiralled out of control and the restrictions are necessary. 

Nenshi has been calling for more stringent restrictions for weeks as case counts across the province soared. 

On Monday, he said the city would institute its own restrictions if the province did not act. 

The province did. 

On Tuesday, Premier Jason Kenney introduced a raft of new measures, including the shutdown of bars and restaurants for in-person service and bans on social gatherings. 

Calgary itself is in a local state of emergency and has now started cracking down on those willfully violating health orders and issued tickets to the organizers of an anti-mask rally.

Sad or mad

Nenshi said it's easy for him to say the new measures are the right thing to do, and that he realizes how devastating this can be for so many. 

"There's nothing wrong with being sad or mad about that," he said.  

Nenshi was joined by the chief of the Calgary Emergency Management Agency, Sue Henry, and Ryan Pleckaitis, the city's chief bylaw officer. 

Henry said they're still waiting for full details from the province and so the full impact on city operations isn't yet known. 

"That said, I think we all watched the provincial announcement yesterday, and the spirit of the orders is we need to flatten the curve and help reduce the spread," she said. 

Henry said they're already getting reports of hoarding at some stores — including toilet paper — and urged Calgarians to only buy what they need and resist panic buying. 

"It's not what we need at this time," she said. 

"Please keep your heads. Stores that can, are remaining open, buy what you need, when you need it. And when you can, purchase from your local providers."

Enforcement of orders

Pleckaitis said he's happy the province has approved the city's request to allow more peace officers to enforce public health orders. 

"This means that we now have over 100 police officers and community standards that can support the Calgary Police Service, and Alberta Health Services, making sure that there's compliance," he said. 

Pleckaitis said he doesn't have a final tally on tickets issued for a protest this past weekend, but should have that information Thursday. 

He said police and bylaw are still reviewing evidence from the gathering. 

He did say two public health tickets have been issued for "events at Olympic Plaza," one which took place on Wednesday and another on Sunday. 

Nenshi was clearly frustrated when asked about the protests and those who blatantly refuse to abide by health orders.

"The point is that there are people who very well know what they're doing is wrong, they're getting a thrill out of doing something that is wrong," he said. 

"And they're flagrantly putting other people at risk, and we're not going to stand for it."

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