By Lethbridge Herald on June 18, 2020.
The City of Lethbridge has ended its State of Local Emergency after 13 weeks and will move to reopen almost all recreational facilities in the coming two months.
Director of Emergency Management Marc Rathwell officially declared the longest State of Local Emergency in Lethbridge’s history over on Thursday as COVID-19 cases remain low in the city. However, he cautioned residents not to let their guard down in the coming weeks and months as the virus is still active in the province and the region.
“It’s still important for people to understand COVID is still there,” he said. “COVID hasn’t gone away, and the virus is still present in our community, and folks still have to maintain physical distancing and still have to take preventative measures like washing hands and (being mindful) of touchpoints. Just because we have turned off the State of Local Emergency and just because the province has turned off the public health emergency, the public health orders Dr. Hinshaw and her group have put out are still in place.”
Rathwell also encouraged all Lethbridge residents, even those without symptoms, to take advantage of local COVID testing so people can be sure they are healthy and well, and not unknowingly spreading the virus to others.
Mayor Chris Spearman thanked City employees and residents for their hard work and respect of public health orders over the past two months, acknowledging it was difficult on everybody. He also emphasized residents should continue to follow public health guidelines because any potential second wave of COVID-19 would be “economically devastating” to the community.
“If we don’t all be positive, and if we don’t all be proactive about preventing a second wave, it’s going to challenge business confidence,” Spearman said. “More businesses would go under. Employment will be negatively affected. We have to be positive about what we can do personally, and together, to make sure there isn’t a second wave of a flare up. We need to make sure the greater goal of ensuring that we have and maintain a healthy community is sustained, and everybody’s committed to that.”
As part of the final stages of ending the State of Local Emergency, it was announced on Thursday, the first floor of city hall would be reopened to the public by Wednesday next week, the temporary homeless shelter set up at the Fritz Sick gymnasium has been closed down, and the City would begin a phased reopening of facilities like spray parks, swimming pools and ice arenas.
A detailed list of scheduled openings for these facilities can be found on the City website; however, City of Lethbridge general manager of Recreation and Culture Robin Harper said there is no timeline yet as to when outdoor swimming opportunities at Westminster Pool and Henderson Lake Pool will be available to the public.
“Based on the guidelines Alberta Health has put in place, the community needs to be aware there will be some restrictions in place even when these facilities reopen,” he said referring to all swimming and arena facilities. “So those could include limited drop-in capability, time limits possibly on visits, limited or restricted use of change rooms and other amenities, and there will be no usage of hot tubs, steam rooms or saunas.”
To see the schedule for reopening of recreation facilities and amenities visit http://www.lethbridge.ca/covid19.
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