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Only a few tickets given out as Calgarians grapple with physical distancing

Last Updated Apr 15, 2020 at 4:57 pm MDT

While local businesses take a significant financial hit, the vast majority in Calgary are following public health guidelines by closing up during the COVID-19 pandemic. (PHOTO: Tom Ross - 660 NEWS)

CALGARY (660 NEWS) — For the most part, Calgarians and business owners have been abiding by the public health guidelines, including physical distancing measures and closures.

But still, some enforcement has been needed as Calgary police have issued a handful of tickets and Alberta Health Services has ordered seven local businesses to close.

The majority of businesses receiving these orders have been gyms, along with a massage clinic and a collectibles store, and there seems to still be a bit of confusion around what can and cannot operate.

“Non-essential retail businesses can operate if they only offer curbside pickup or delivery. So, I know a lot of people have been confused about that as well,” Mayor Naheed Nenshi said.

“The vast majority of businesses, at significant cost to themselves, have been complying with orders around public health and I think that’s really, really admirable.”

Calgary Emergency Management Agency Chief Tom Sampson added that they are still taking an education-first approach, with local enforcement looked at as a last resort.

“Seek first to understand and then to be clearly understood,” he said.

“There will be no end of subtle nuances that are out there. Somebody asked me recently, ‘can I run a boot camp?’ No, you can’t run a boot camp. Sorry, it’s no different than a gym.”

Businesses do risk hefty fines for disobeying these orders and the list of affected business types can be found on the provincial government’s website.

Calgary police are also playing a role in this, mostly by making sure closed businesses are still protected.

“We have had a slight increase on our businesses being broken into,” Superintendent Steve Barlow said.

“We have been doing more high-visibility (patrols) to those areas and a lot of our business districts.”

Police are looking out for any disobeying businesses, although reports can be made to Alberta Health Services and they will look further into the situation.

Officers are also making sure people are following the physical distancing guidelines while out and about.

“As our members are out patrolling, if they are seeing too many people in an area, they will have discussions with those people and we’ve had voluntary compliance in all of those situations,” Barlow said.

The most recent ticket given for physical distancing was earlier in the week and actually related to a stolen vehicle investigation involving three suspects.

Also for the Calgary Police Service, Barlow said there are no new COVID-19 cases among officers after one was reported over the weekend.

To mitigate any risk to officers or people they encounter on patrol, they will also be wearing medical masks while on duty.