By Lethbridge Herald on March 27, 2020.
The City of Lethbridge announced Friday it would be temporarily moving the homeless shelter to the Fritz Sick gymnasium to allow for proper social distancing between individuals in the homeless community.
“Within our business continuity plans, the Fritz Sick centre has always been our backup facility for the homeless shelter,” explained city manager Jody Meli.
Meli said the Fritz Sick gym, due to its size, was the most appropriate place for the homeless to go under the current circumstances with the threat of COVID-19 hanging over the community.
“The facility will provide more square footage than the current homeless shelter,” Meli explained. “And individuals can follow the recommendations from Alberta Health Services on (two-metre) social distancing.”
Meli said the City had made arrangements with the Lethbridge Senior Citizens Organization, which shares a portion of the building with the Fritz Sick gymnasium, to ensure the security of those premises while the temporary shelter was in use. The LSCO remains closed to the public during the coronavirus outbreak.
Meli said the current homeless shelter building would remain open as a safe sobering site.
“This will triple the community’s capacity to offer those (safe-sobering) services,” she said.
Meli said she expected the transition would be completed for both the Fritz Sick and shelter facility by the end of this weekend.
The City was also prepared to open other temporary homeless shelter sites as it becomes necessary, but was not advancing further plans in that direction yet, she told The Herald.
Meli also confirmed the City has reserved a block of rooms at a local hotel on Mayor Magrath Drive to use as isolation rooms if anyone in the homeless community should contract the disease and need to be isolated from the rest of the population.
“Anyone experiencing flu-like symptoms will be housed at this location until they can be tested. To ensure the health and safety of all residents and individuals at the self-isolation unit, it will be supported by onsite case workers, access to clean clothing, hygiene products, access to meals, as well as 24/7 security.”
Meli did not confirm which hotel was to be used for this purpose in her remarks to the press on Friday.
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