OLDS — Public facilities in Olds could remain closed until July 6, according to Brian Powell, the town’s Emergency Operations Centre director.
Officials say the town's administration office remains closed. Emergency Operations Centre staff are working on a reopening plan and will notify council if that changes.
During a recent council meeting, Powell also said municipally-owned facilities are “dotted in place” to remain closed until July 6.
Those facilities are the Olds Aquatic Centre, the Sportsplex, the splash park and skate park, baseball diamonds, soccer fields and community playground structures.
Powell said some phased reopenings may occur, but “not any time soon until we have an identification of what our proper re-entry strategy’s going to be looking like.”
Powell said essential town services such as maintainance of roads, utilities as well as sewer, and water services plus garbage disposal "continue to function at full capacity."
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On May 13, Premier Jason Kenney announced that several businesses in Alberta could remain open, but several restrictions remain in place for sports.
For example, pools, recreation centres, arenas and gyms remain closed.
Major sporting events, along with arts and cultural festivals and concerts are not yet permitted.
Gatherings are limited to 15 people or fewer. And those who do gather must follow social distancing and other health guidelines.
The Town of Olds has a plan to reopen very, very carefully as COVID-19 lockdown restrictions begin to be relaxed, CAO Michael Merritt says.
“It will be a coordinated plan, so they’re not five individual plans coming forth in regards to this. It’ll be a holistic plan which will impact the town services,” he said.
Merritt said town staff will make sure the plan is “well communicated” and “well coordinated.”
He stressed the town will proceed carefully, keeping in mind the fact that the provincial government may reimpose restrictions if COVID-19 cases begin to spike again.
“We have a pandemic plan as is required and such so I do feel very comfortable and confident that the town of Olds is well on track to make the right decisions at the right time,” Merritt said.
“And it’s important that it is the right time to make those decisions and not to over-react to certain situations.”
Merritt said in many areas, the town has been “leading” when it comes to setting rules in place to deal with COVID-19. He cited its temporary yard sale ban as an example.
“That’s because we put a strong team in place and that team is still pretty much in place,” Merritt said.
However, he warned it will be a “long haul.”
Powell said Central Alberta still has one of the lowest infection rates in the province.
He suggested that might have to do with its relatively low population as well as the way in which communities are enforcing restrictions and residents are – generally – complying with those rules.
“(That’s) good news, speaking to the strong vigilance that the communities are sharing and the added benefit that we have as Central Albertans with having some geospatial advantages, I guess you could say as well,” he said.