No local state of emergency, but Edmonton reducing transit hours amid COVID-19 pandemic
EDMONTON -- The City of Edmonton is not declaring a local state of emergency but is switching local transit services to a reduced Saturday schedule amid a fall in ridership brought on by COVID-19.
"I want to assure Edmontonians that we continue everything possible to monitor and follow the advice of public health officials, consider supports for vulnerable Edmontonians and to look at supports for our local businesses," Mayor Don Iveson told reporters on Monday.
"You only want to do that when it's absolutely necessary and in Edmonton…we don’t want to do that yet," Iveson said of not declaring a local state of emergency.
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Interim City Manager Adam Laughlin said transit has seen a 22 per cent reduction as more people follow provincial health guidelines and self-isolate as well as work from home.
"This change allows us to keep the buses on the road while also allowing us more time to make sure the buses are cleaner," Laughlin said. “These changes will help us ensure we safely deliver transit.”
The changes take effect Tuesday, March 17 and apply to both buses and the LRT.
Doors on trains will now also automatically open without a push button at stations. All buses will now have bus shields to allow for more effective distancing between drivers and passengers.
DATS service is not affected.
NO LOCAL STATE OF EMERGENCY
Unlike Calgary and Red Deer, Edmonton is not declaring a local state of emergency.
Laughlin said city staff monitor other cities' responses to the COVID-19 pandemic but says Edmonton doesn't warrant a state of emergency yet.
"There are other options and we have chose to use those," said Laughlin. "We feel with the steps we've taken. We're managing it effectively."
On Sunday, the city said one of its employees was diagnosed with coronavirus after travelling outside of Canada.
Laughlin said the individual is resting in self-isolation at home and his or her workstation had been disinfected at a facility that remains open.
PUBLIC SPACES CLOSE DOWN
A number of city facilities have been ordered to shut down in recent days including libraries, rec centres, and arenas among other attractions including the Valley Zoo and John Janzen Nature Centre.
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A number of major shopping centres reduced hours and West Edmonton Mall closed almost all of its attractions including the World Waterpark, Galaxyland and the Marine Life Sea Cavern.
Over the weekend, the Alberta government cancelled school classes, shut down daycares and ordered in-person classes to be called off at post-secondary institutions.
The province also said that places of worship are now being asked to cancel services, in addition to an earlier recommendation that all gatherings of 250 people or more be cancelled.