Our State of Local Emergency is gone – but is that a good thing?
By Alex Luong, Staff Writer
On Dec. 2, the City of Calgary let the State of Local Emergency (SOLE) expire as they deem the powers afforded under the SOLE no longer necessary. These extra powers included procurement of vaccines and rapid testing.
“Most Calgarians have rolled up their sleeves to protect themselves, their loved ones and their community from the pandemic. With 88 per cent of Calgarians aged 12 and older now fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and the vaccination for children aged 5-11 underway,” Chief of the Calgary Emergency Management Agency (CEMA) Susan Henry said.
The SOLE that has been in place on Sept. 3, 2021 is the third SOLE that has been declared since the beginning of the pandemic. It was declared due to an increase in the number of COVID-19 Delta variant cases. During that time, the Vaccine Passport and Face Covering bylaw were implemented.
The Vaccine Passport bylaw required many businesses and organizations to require proof of vaccination, a recent negative COVID-19 test or a valid medical exemption letter to gain entry to many businesses and public establishments. The Face Covering Bylaw required Calgarians to wear a face covering or masks in indoor public spaces and public vehicles.
Earlier last year, during March of 2020, the Municipal Emergency Plan was implemented to provide citizens and city employees with information, resources, and support against the COVID-19 pandemic.
Despite the SOLE being lifted, there is still concern among Calgarians like Ward 7 Councillor Terry Wong. Wong voices his concern on Twitter, saying he’d like to have a council meeting to reconsider the decision as the Omicron COVID variant has been confirmed in Alberta by Dr. Deena Hinshaw.
Wong tweeted, “#Omicron is confirmed in #Alberta by Dr Hinshaw. So it makes no sense to end #YYC State of Local Emergency on Thurs. We must have a special [Calgary City Council] meeting to reconsider that order. Lives are at stake. I’m asking Mayor [Jyoti Gondek] to reconvene [with the] Council.”
Although the SOLE has expired, Calgary’s Municipal Emergency Plan along with the Vaccine Passport and Face Covering bylaw will continue to be in place until further notice.
Mayor Gondek said that, “with the increase of vaccinations and the continued use of masks in public settings, we have been able to keep businesses and our economy open. Calgarians must remember the pandemic is not yet over and we must remain vigilant. Please continue to wear your masks and get yourself and your kids vaccinated.”