Calgary mayor says ‘smart restrictions’ vital to fight spiking COVID-19 cases

Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi says rapidly rising coronavirus case counts are driving home the importance of recognizing it is “smart restrictions” — not just any restrictions — that will help fight the spread of the virus in Canadian communities.

In an interview with The West Block’s Mercedes Stephenson, Nenshi said that while he’s been vocal in calling for action in the province to crack down on the spread, those measures need to make sense and be communicated clearly to the public.

He said recent decisions such as opening up casino gambling while shutting down team sports, including for children, have left many in his community confused about the reasoning behind them.

Alberta last week rolled out a two-week ban on team sports and group fitness classes and put curfews in place on liquor sales in the province, even as casinos remain open.

Part of the problem, Nenshi said, is that the province’s contact tracers are overwhelmed by rising cases and that makes it difficult to track where the majority of infections are actually coming from.

Alberta doctors have issued a growing chorus of warnings that hospitals and intensive care units will soon hit capacity without strict measures put in place to crack down.

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The province has been reporting nearly 900 new cases per day, and Premier Jason Kenney warned in rolling out the latest measures that they may be their last chance to avoid a bigger lockdown.

“This two-week push is, I believe, our last chance to avoid more restrictive measures that I and most Albertans desperately want to avoid,” Kenney said.

Nenshi said while some might look at numbers suggesting hospitals are below 70 per cent capacity and brush off the calls for action, doing so ignores the proven fact that coronavirus growth is exponential.

That means it multiplies quickly, leading to the situation rapidly getting out of hand.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau urged provinces last week to “act now” to clamp down on the spread of the virus, which is raging throughout the country with 5,000 new cases reported on Thursday.

Chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam says the country is on track to see new daily cases hit 10,000 by the beginning of December unless people make significant changes.

Nenshi said he’s glad to see more provinces acknowledging that tamping down on the spread is not a matter of choosing between the economy and public health, and that they actually work together.

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