City extends state of emergency, issues three important COVID-19 orders for health of community

The City issued three formal orders to protect residents and businesses against the spread of COVID-19 as the state of local emergency in Edmonton was extended for the next seven days.

“This continues to be an unprecedented time for the City of Edmonton, and renewing the State of Local Emergency and implementing the emergency orders allows us to manage this constantly changing situation in the best way possible,” said Interim City Manager Adam Laughlin.

Our priority during this difficult time continues to be the health and safety of the public,” he said. “Everything we are doing is to ensure their safety.

Interim City Manager Adam Laughlin and senior City leaders address City Council, March 26, 2020

The orders were signed by Laughlin after a public discussion with a physically distant City Council that unanimously agreed to extend the state of local emergency for one week. 

Order 1: Self-isolation

Essentially, anybody with a confirmed or suspected case of COVID-19 must immediately self-isolate in accordance with directions issued by the Federal Government, Alberta Health Services and the Chief Medical Officer of Health. 

Find more about this order in part of today’s City of Edmonton news release here.

Order 2: Physical distancing

Here’s the exact wording.

“That, while in any public space that remains open in the City of Edmonton, including but not limited to parks, shopping centres, and retail stores, individuals must take all reasonable steps to maintain a distance of at least two metres between themselves and any other individual, except individuals they reside with or have close personal relationships with.” 

This means remaining public space stays open, but physical distancing is the law.

And it’s why Edmontonians can expect to see these signs popping up across the city.

The parking lot at Terwillegar Park, March 26, 2020.

Order 3: Personal services 

“That all Personal Services Shops providing services related to the care and appearance of the body and Body Rub Centres, as those businesses are defined in the Business Licence Bylaw, Bylaw 13138, are immediately closed.” 

The order applies to tattoo parlours, hair salons, barber shops, nail salons, health spas, tanning salons and body rub centres. This includes home-based business in those categories. 

It does not apply to tailors, dressmakers, shoe repair businesses and dry cleaners, Council heard. 

All City Councillors joined today’s meeting, whether in person or by video.

Diplomacy, compassion in enforcement

Laughlin was asked about enforcement, and what Edmontonians venturing outside as the weather becomes milder might expect, particularly in public spaces. 

“I think what you’ll see is more folks out there from an enforcement perspective, but I trust that they’ll take the steps in a diplomatic and compassionate way, and, ‘please follow the advice,’ and, if not, then you’ll start to see the fines.” 

Construction

During the Council meeting, Laughlin was asked about the fate of City construction projects. 

“It’s our intention to keep going,” Laughlin said, having noted earlier that “it’s been one of the elements of the economy identified as a key economic driver.” Laughlin added, however, that a larger discussion will take place on Monday, March 30, when Council digs deeper into financial fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Mayor Don Iveson appears at a news conference via video, City Hall, March 26, 2020

The good word: Mayor’s condition

“I’m feeling much better,” said Mayor Don Iveson, who joined the Council meeting virtually from home.

“It was something between a bad cold and the flu and maybe some exhaustion.” Iveson said he will continue to self-isolate into next week after deciding Sunday that he would be working from home with symptoms not severe enough to be tested.

“I did the self-assessment like everybody else,” Iveson said. “If there’s a firefighter or a senior or an ambulance driver who needs that test more than I do, then so be it. I’m happy to self-isolate and take the appropriate precautions.” 

Take the Alberta Health Services self-assessment.