Wheatland County drafting letter requesting province ease COVID restrictions

·2 min read

Ongoing regulations in place by the Alberta government to curb the spread of COVID-19 were a topic of discussion during the regular Wheatland County council meeting on Tuesday, February 16.

Division 4 Councillor Tom Ikert recommended a letter be drafted to Alberta Premier Jason Kenney to request the ongoing restrictions be lifted due to adverse economic and mental health effects.

“We are not allowed, at this stage--even though we can go to a restaurant-I am not allowed to have people in my house,” Councillor Ikert said during the discussion.

The province entered the first stage of a phased reopening on Monday, February 8. Under the eased restrictions restaurants are reopened for dine-in services, and fitness activities are permitted to resume with a trainer. Each phase of reopening is based upon current hospital and ICU admissions; the province is scheduled to reevaluate the next phase of reopening on Monday, March 1.

One concern Councillor Ikert noted was the disparity of case numbers in urban municipalities compared to rural municipalities. Since the start of the pandemic, Wheatland County has had a total of 240 cases and no reported deaths; as of Sunday, February 21 there were six active cases in the county.

Councillor Glenn Koester (Division 6) stated he supported writing a letter requesting better explanation and timeline of reopening. However, he noted he did not support demanding the province reopen. His concern being for seniors in the community, the population most at risk by COVID-19.

“The province has the luxury of having professional doctors on staff, having professional mathematicians that can figure out the likelihood of other conditions. Wheatland County-we just have feelings,” Councillor Koester said.

Reeve Amber Link also voiced concerns over the continued restrictions, and premature reopening.

“I recognize the heartbreaking impacts of both COVID and the measures that have been put in place by other levels of government,” she said during the discussion. “I also recognize the complexity of the time we are living in.”

Councillor Ikert amended his original motion to draft a letter to Premier Kenny, Alberta municipalities, as well as provincial MPs and MLAs, to request further easing of restrictions due to the negative impacts these restrictions have had on the economy and mental health across the province.

The letter will be brought before council for consideration at the next council meeting on Tuesday, March 2.

Lacie Nairn, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Drumheller Mail