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Town will proceed very carefully with lifting restrictions

Smaller population helped keep Central Alberta's infection rate relatively low

OLDS — 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.

Merritt made that point during a recent council meeting, held via Zoom.

“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.”

Municipally-owned facilities will 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.

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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.”

As of the early afternoon of Friday, May 22, Red Deer County has had 15 cases (one active and 14 recovered). The Innisfail area has had one recovered case. The Olds area has had three recovered cases. The Didsbury area has had five cases (one active and four recovered). The Sundre area has had two cases (one active and one recovered).

Brian Powell, director of the town’s Emergency Operations Centre, 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.