Bars contend COVID-19 inspections ‘overkill’, question police presence

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“The frequency of inspections depends on several factors, including the number of complaints, the severity of infractions and whether follow-up is required to ensure the items noted in inspections have been addressed,” AHS said in a statement.

“We always seek to work with operators prior to issuing orders.”

Inspections are made at the busiest times to best gauge compliance, and police are present to ensure inspectors’ safety, said AHS.

Police officers in groups of twos or threes are part of a “task force” alongside AHS and city bylaw and licensing officials, said Tom Sampson, head of the Calgary Emergency Management Agency.

“They’re specifically trying to help people, and where we have some egregious violations the AHS folks are writing orders on what needs to be done,” said Sampson.

“I regret people are viewing that as something more than it is — it’s there to help Calgarians to keep those businesses open in a safe fashion.”

Calgary Emergency Management Agency Chief Tom Sampson urged Calgarians to increase their vigilance as COVID-19 numbers surge in the city. Sampson spoke on Wednesday, October 28, 2020. Photo by Gavin Young/Postmedia

Clark and Smith said they don’t fall into that egregious violator category.

COVID-19 infections have skyrocketed in the Calgary zone in recent weeks, sitting at 1,788 active cases, while 140 people have died in the region.

Mayor Naheed Nenshi said compliance among bars and restaurants has been “great” but noted two outbreaks in the summer were traced to Calgary watering holes, one of which caused him to be tested and contact-traced.

“I certainly don’t want to see any harassment but there’s still a need for inspections . . . we want to keep you open but we’ve seen in other jurisdictions they’ve had to clamp down (on bars) and we don’t want to see that here,” said Nenshi.

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