Calgarians only get a C+ for physical distancing over long weekend, CEMA chief warns

Calgary Emergency Management Agency said it didn't issue any tickets to individuals for violating COVID-19-related rules on the long weekend but officers warned 135 people along with warning 13 businesses and fining two others.

Tom Sampson said many Calgarians behaved and no tickets were issued

Tom Sampson, chief of Calgary Emergency Management Agency, says there might have been some confusion with the rules over the long weekend due to last minute changes from the province. (CBC)

Calgarians got a passing grade, barely, for their behaviour over the long weekend.

Tom Sampson, chief of the Calgary Emergency Management Agency, pegged it at a C+.

"It's a good grade, but we could have done better," he said as CEMA gave an update on how Calgary has been doing amid the COVID-19 pandemic at a news conference on Tuesday afternoon.

There were no tickets issued to individuals for health violations over the weekend, but there were 135 warnings given out. 

Sampson said officers focused more on education than enforcement because changes to the rules announced just before the weekend might have thrown some for a loop.

"Calgarians might not have been completely up to speed."

Last Wednesday, the Alberta government caught some people by surprise when Premier Jason Kenney announced that that the entire province would proceed to the first phase of its relaunch plan on the following day — except for Calgary and Brooks.

Elsewhere, retail stores, hair salons, museums, daycares and day camps were allowed to open, with restrictions, and people were able to dine in restaurants and cafes with up to 50 per cent capacity.

Calgary and Brooks, however, were put on a different timeline due to higher COVID-19 case counts in the two areas. Museums, galleries and retailers were allowed to reopen, but the rest were told they'd have to wait.


In Tuesday's long weekend update, Sampson said 13 businesses were warned for not adhering to physical distancing rules, while two massage businesses were fined for operating when they were not allowed to be open.

Mayor Naheed Nenshi said as far as the city knows, the date for reopening of Calgary's restaurants and bars — May 25 — is not aspirational and should move ahead unless serious problems arise before that time. 

Kenney said the city and Brooks would find out definitely on Friday whether those businesses can open on that date. 

Recycling impacted

The outbreak at Cascades Recovery, which handles the city's recycling, has been contained and the facility is up and running again, although only at 50 per cent capacity. 

All recycling that has been gathered by the city since last Wednesday ended up in the landfill while the facility was sterilized and some loads could continue to be scrapped as work ramps up. 

Nenshi and Sampson asked Calgarians to hold back on putting out their blue carts, or putting out full loads, until the facility is at full capacity so that more doesn't end up in the landfill.