By Jensen, Randy on April 11, 2020.
The City of Lethbridge announced on Thursday it would be extending its Local State of Emergency for the next 90 days as the COVID-19 outbreak continues. Along with renewing this declaration, Co-Director of Emergency Management Greg Adair announced new closures of recreational use areas in the city.
“We’re asking people to stay home,” he said. “We want them to limit the gatherings; so we have added a few more closures in. These include our tennis courts, our pickleball courts, our basketball courts, our disc golf course, our BMX park, our mountain bike park, and our skating parks. These parks will be closed until further notice …. We want to ensure this social distancing and eliminate all of our touch points.”
It was also announced in the provincial COVID-19 update by Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, on Thursday that golf courses are to close due to the pandemic.
City manager Jody Meli also asked residents to be patient with changes to the transit service, which moved to ride-by-reservation on Wednesday.
“We scheduled 336 trips (on Wednesday) for residents requiring essential travel. This is a big change for riders, and I know change is difficult. But if everybody could just use some patience and understanding as we work to mobilize this new system. At this time there is high call volumes coming into the booking line, and you might have to wait to get through. But just be patient.”
Meli said to help ease the strain on the booking line, riders with general questions should call the City’s 311 Call Centre instead, and those requiring future or regular daily service should fill out an online reservation request form whenever possible and submit that instead of calling in.
Meli stressed that just because a rider is given a specific time when their ride is to arrive at a local bus stop, they should be patient if the bus is running a bit late and account for that contingency in their trip planning.
“You should give them up to about 20 minutes,” said Meli. “Again, it’s a new system and there are some things we are going to have to trial through; so we just ask the community to have some patience.”
Insp. Jason Walper of the Lethbridge Police Service said the department was nearly back to full strength after experiencing some manpower shortages the past few weeks as some officers underwent 14-day quarantines related to travel outside of Canada or out of an abundance of caution if potentially exposed to some cases of COVID-19.
None of those undergoing self-isolation have thus far tested positive for the disease, Walper confirmed, and the officer who was coughed on by a man claiming to be exposed to COVID-19 was still on duty after consulting with Alberta Health Services self-assessment guidelines.
“He has not been tested for COVID,” Walper stated, “but he did go through the process with AHS, and was deemed not to need testing.”
Walper also confirmed police had not been called upon by AHS to enforce any public health orders related to the current crisis thus far, and he hoped it remained that way.
“That’s good news for Lethbridge. I hope that means our community is taking care of each other, they are helping each other through this time, and they are not requiring police assistance to allow police to deal with crime-related occurrences.”
Follow TimKalHerald on Twitter