Pandemic protests continue as Calgarians call for province to rethink response

CALGARY — Hundreds of health care workers, educators and concerned Calgarians held another protest Saturday to ask the provincial government to retool its pandemic strategy.

It was the second such event in two days.

Many on site are worried the latest reeling in of health restrictions could jeopardize safety in Alberta, and they want a pause on any action until everyone can be vaccinated.

“I’m here today because, like many other people, I can’t sit on the sidelines anymore,” teacher and parent Crystal Chokshi told CTV News. “Right now it’s looking like (my two young daughters) might have to stay home again and be homeschooled after making so many sacrifices.”

Chokshi’s sentiment was a familiar one in front of the McDougall Centre.

Hundreds say they’re worried an end to COVID-19 isolation periods, masking rules and contact tracing will make the upcoming school year a dangerous one.

Albertans under 12 are not eligible to be vaccinated.

“I don’t know if they realize the gravity,” Diane Forsyth said. “These are our children. The thought that they are being exposed is just beyond mind boggling.”

The province announced on Wednesday that Alberta will be dropping mandatory health measures in mid-August. It believes the latest immunization numbers make the move possible.

The rate of severe outcomes in children who have COVID-19 is drastically lower than it is in adults.

But one medical professional argued on Saturday that there are other things at stake.

“I would invite Mr. Kenney to talk with the survivors who are still rehabilitating to get a better grasp of what it is he’s setting loose on us on Aug. 16,” respiratory therapist Marie Stuckel said. “Do we want full lockdowns? No. Do we want kids to be able to go to school? Yes. But let’s be safe about it and let’s use our heads.”

Nearly 65 per cent of Albertans ages 12 and up have received both doses of a COVID-19 vaccine.

The protesters say they will be back at McDougall Centre every day at noon until the province rethinks its decision.

Similar large gatherings have been held this week in Edmonton and in Lethbridge.

According to the latest virus data, which consists of the figures recorded as of July 29, there are 796 active cases of COVID-19 in the city of Calgary.

A week ago, on July 22, that number was 367.

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