“This is not a normal summer,” said Iveson. “This reopening is a very fragile time.”
As such, said the mayor, “we need to be careful so we do not upend our reopening. Our economy means nothing without our health.”
Demand for city services has increased in many areas, Iveson added, and the city has absorbed a budget shortfall of $164 million dollars in city finances due to COVID-19.
While most of Alberta will reopen on May 14, Brooks and Calgary will reopen more slowly due to the higher number of cases in those cities.
Iveson is asking visitors to be mindful, and follow health guidelines.
“We know that this virus is not constrained to any one municipal boundary, so we echo Dr. Hinshaw’s advice and ask the potential visitors to our city from those regions wait to visit until their city or town’s restrictions are lifted,” said Iveson.
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“Edmontonians have done a remarkable job so far, flattening our city’s curve. Let’s keep up the good work and continue to scrupulously follow AHS guidelines on this.”
Interim City Manager Adam Laughlin also announced a number of changes to come with the first phase of the City’s relaunch strategy, including an announcement for businesses in Edmonton.
“Effective May 19, and until the end of the year, rules around retail patio expansion are relaxed, and this will support businesses in increasing maximum capacity in safe ways, and will add to the vibrancy of our city in the summer,” announced Laughlin in the press conference.
“The city will work with the business improvement areas and member business to articulate what best works for their specific area.”
The city will provide updates regarding e-scooters shared streets sport courts soccer and premier sports fields, playgrounds skate parks picnic tables next week, and decisions will also be shared with committee next week regarding animal care and control centres the Edmonton valley zoo summer camps, and city facilities.
“Now more than ever, the city, the province, Edmontonians, and businesses have a shared responsibility to ensure the reopening is successful,” said Laughlin.
“We expect that reopening will be even more challenging than closing was.”
The reopening of Riverside and Victoria golf course was effective on Monday of this week, and reopening of the Alex Decoteau, Manning Village and Paisley off-leash fenced dog parks will go into effect Saturday, May 16, Laughlin added.
Laughlin clarified, however, that it is the choice of businesses to open if they fee it safe for them to do so, and if they are following the provincial health guidelines.
“They need to be comfortable, and ensure they have the systems in place for themselves, their staff, and their customers, to be able to open,” said Laughlin.
“Our relaunch assessments will be based on what is necessary, sustainable, affordable, and in compliance with the province’s health and safety requirements.”
The State of Local Emergency was declared on March 20, 2020, and the Emergency Advisory Committee of Council has renewed it eight times since that date.
Note: While local parks, shops, and events are beginning to reopen, Alberta Health Services is reminding individuals to monitor their health for signs and symptoms of COVID-19. And if you’re not feeling well, they recommend staying home at this time. If you decide to go out, maintain the 6-feet physical distancing guidelines.