Calgary reinstates state of local emergency, passes municipal mask bylaw

As COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations continue to increase across the province, Calgary has once again declared a state of local emergency.

The move came as Alberta reported 1,401 new cases of COVID-19 — the highest single-day spike since May 13.

The declaration of a state of emergency means the city will be allowed to write local orders to deal with local challenges and will be able to secure supplies needed to run essential services quickly.

Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi said the declarations were valuable early in the pandemic because it helped coordinate multiple agencies who weren’t used to working together.

“Since then, we’re working together regardless of whether the state of emergency is in place or not,” he said during a video conference.

“So, we’re really using it for some very specific reasons that have to do with procurement, helping us implement rapid testing and the mandates that we agreed upon today.”

Nenshi said that once those issues have resolved, there won’t be additional need to carry on the state of local emergency.

“So, it’s hard to predict when [it will be lifted], but I imagine this will be a relatively short-lived one,” he said.

Calgary mask bylaw

On Friday, Calgary also passed a municipal mask bylaw. It will take effect on Saturday.

It includes a $500 fine for those who do not wear a mask in indoor public spaces, and a $200 fine for failing to display signage that masks are required.

The provincial government already announced that masks would be made mandatory for all indoor public spaces and workplaces starting on Saturday.

In response to a question from Coun. Sean Chu focused on why a municipal bylaw was necessary given that move, city administration said it would give municipal peace officers and transit peace officers the power to enforce the bylaw.

The last state of local emergency was put in place in Calgary in November 2020, but was lifted in June as cases decreased and immunizations increased.

Calgary’s first state of local emergency ran from March to June 2020 during the pandemic’s first wave.

Declaring such an emergency is extremely rare. Prior to the pandemic, the last time it was done in Calgary was during the summer of 2013, when massive flooding hit the city.

There are currently 3,803 active cases in the Calgary zone. 

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