Red Deer facilities to open as soon as ‘operationally possible’

The City of Red Deer will reopen public facilities as soon as it is “operationally possible,” says Mayor Tara Veer.

“It will be phased. It’s the priority right now to relaunch our community, relaunch our local economy,” Veer said during a Facebook Live media conference Wednesday afternoon.

“We will announce the relaunch of every city facility and amenity as we engage in those processes over the coming days and weeks.”

On Tuesday, the Alberta government announced Stage 2 of the province’s economic relaunch strategy will begin this Friday, instead of the original targeted start date of June 19.

Some of the reopenings in the second stage include libraries, movie theatres, community halls and wellness services such as massage and acupuncture.

Certain activities, such as indoor recreation and team sports, were originally set for Stage 3, but are now allowed to open Friday.

The maximum number of people who can gather at indoor social gatherings will grow to 50 in Stage 2, while outdoor and indoor seated events are allowed 100 people.

Red Deer city manager Allan Seabrooke said some amenities may be back sooner than others.

“Although we’re excited to welcome back citizens to our facilities, we will not be ready to open Friday,” he said.

“There’s significant work to be done to ensure our facilities can open and we can resume programs and services, but also ensure the health and safety of both our citizens and our staff.”

The opening of amenities is a “complex task,” said Seabrooke.

“These buildings have now been closed for just over 11 weeks and we will need preparation in order to open,” said Seabrooke.

“First and foremost, we need to understand how we will adhere to the operating and new use guidelines that have been set by the province.

“For example, there are capacity limits to consider, as well as limitations on specific activities. We also need to recall our staff and ensure they are trained on the new health and safety policies and procedures.”

Another big task is getting the facilities ready, Seabrooke said, adding some amenity openings may not even be feasible given current restrictions.

The city is in the planning stages of offering modified summer day camps for children six to 12 years old.

Red Deer’s state of local emergency status expires Sunday, Veer added.

“A decision has been made not to formally renew the state of local emergency, but this does not mean the risks associated with the COVID-19 pandemic have necessarily ended,” she said.

“Public health orders, as noted by the provincial government, are still in place. Measures such as physical distancing are still in place and likely will continue to be for a considerable amount of time.”

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