Calgary bans team sports, closes personal care services like hair salons to limit COVID-19's spread
'We don't want to kill the buzz of a beautiful spring day,' Chief Tom Sampson says
Calgarians are heading into a warm spring weekend with a blanket-ban against team sports and further closures of things like skate parks and personal-care businesses, in a bid to curb the spread of the COVID-19 outbreak.
Calgary emergency officials issued an order Friday afternoon that further restricts physical interactions.
Hair and nail salons will be closed, as will businesses offering non-essential physiotherapy and massage therapy.
Body rub parlours will also be closed.
People will have to limit their enjoyment of the spring weather — with temperatures expected to rise to 11 C — to walking and biking, and with a safe two-metre distance from the next person, officials said.
Calgary Emergency Management Agency (CEMA) Chief Tom Sampson announced that along with playgrounds, skate parks will be closed.
Courts and fields will stay open but only biking and walking will be allowed on them.
All team sports such as cricket, baseball, basketball, Frisbee and football have been banned — whether organized or informal.
"It's going to be a beautiful weekend and we don't want to kill the buzz of a beautiful spring day so go out but spread out," Sampson told reporters.
Sampson has been a strong advocate for physical distancing and good hygiene, two techniques people can use to prevent the spread of the respiratory illness.
More signs have been added to some pathways, he said, reminding people to keep their distance.
"There's a few of you that are bunching up regardless of what we say," Sampson said. "And we need you to do the right thing."
- Watch the full CEMA news conference in the Facebook video below. (Note: There were technical issues at the start of the news conference so only audio is available at first but it soon changes to the full video.)
As of late Thursday, the Calgary zone faced a total of 300 COVID-19 cases as officials tried to manage the growing pandemic. That's roughly 60 per cent of the total 486 cases in Alberta.
Alberta's chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, is expected to provide the latest numbers later Friday afternoon.
Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi encouraged everyone to get outside on the weekend, noting that exercise can help improve mood and mental health. He suggested kids ride their bikes on the courts, and people take walks on the fields and trails.
If the paths get too busy, the city may look at opening up more places for walkers, Nenshi said, but he asked people avoid busy spots.
Earlier this week, a woman in her 80s from a southeast Calgary nursing home died. That home, the McKenzie Towne Long Term Care Centre, had a total of 14 positive COVID-19 cases at last count.