Editor’s note: Once a week, on Thursdays, the City’s Interim City Manager, Adam Laughlin, appears in front of a physically distanced City Council, most of whom are joining the meeting via video links, to provide updates on COVID-19. The City Manager is the City’s chief administrative officer. His updates are typically important bottom-line stuff. Projections for revenue shortfalls. Decisions on temporarily closing facilities. Updates on shipments of Personal Protective Equipment. Plans for recovery. Stuff like that. Last Thursday, Laughlin used the start of his presentation for a different kind of update. It was more of an assessment of where we are as citizens of Edmonton in a pandemic. And what service to each other consists of at this time.
Here’s what Laughlin said:
“I’d like to start my update with some encouraging news. Based on observations from city enforcement officers, we’re seeing good compliance with the physical distancing, hygiene and mass gathering restrictions put in place to stop the spread of the virus in our community. Edmontonians are doing their part, which is essential to flattening the curve over the next six to eight weeks.”
New ethical questions (and thank you)
“I want to recognize the remarkable local support we have.
“Over a very short time span, we have imposed significant restrictions on the way that people work, travel, purchase goods and services and interact with each other.
“It has meant big adjustments for everyone.
“Whether it’s someone who is performing essential work, volunteering, taking necessary trips to grocery stores, caring for relatives, or just stretching their legs, Edmontonians venturing out into the world now face new ethical and social behaviour questions. How do you be a good neighbour, an urban citizen and a connected individual, family member and employee when staying at home when you can, and physically distancing when you are out?
“This requires new rules of etiquette, judgment and compassion for some of our most routine behaviours. I am so pleased with the way that Edmontonians have responded and shown that they care about the safety of everyone in the community.”
At the end of Thursday’s meeting, Mayor Don Iveson picked up the theme of citizenship. He noted that in parts of the United States, there is a “real concerted backlash against some of the public measures.”
“There’s been a little of that in Canada, but we haven’t seen a significant measure of that here in Edmonton, which is good. I think it means that the communication has been clear and consistent. To the extent that local, provincial and federal decision makers can be aligned on the science of this, rather than the opinions around it, we do better and that’s part of what has saved lives already.”