Pincher Creek Council divided over suspension of Covid-19 testing policy

In response to the Alberta government’s recent decision to lift pandemic restrictions, Pincher Creek town council has decided to temporarily suspend Covid testing for town employees.

The decision was made Feb. 14 after a short deliberation. It was a divided vote, with multiple councillors either favouring or opposing the change, but most chose to follow the province’s lead.

Prior to this, the town had been testing all non-vaccinated employees working from the town office two times per week since Jan. 24.

Chief administrative officer Laurie Wilgosh says employees “were generally very co-operative” regarding the policy.

Mayor Don Anderberg was in agreement with the suspension. He says it simply makes sense to align municipal Covid policies with provincial ones.

“If you’re not following any other protocols, then why would you follow that one? It’s kind of redundant,” he says.

The provincial government announced plans to gradually lift Covid restrictions in stages, starting with the Restriction Exemption Program, which was repealed Feb. 9. This was followed by elimination of masking requirements for children under 13 on Feb. 14. Students aged 13 and up are still required to wear masks while in public, but not in school.

Remaining restrictions — including capacity limits for large venues and social gatherings, as well as indoor masking and mandatory work-from-home requirements — may be removed starting March 1, depending on the amount of trending hospitalizations.

Meanwhile, Covid testing for staff at the Pincher Creek Community Early Learning Centre will continue uninterrupted.

Council will revisit the matter on March 2 and may decide to reinstate the policy or to remove it entirely, depending on case counts and the provincial regulations in place.

Coun. Sahra Nodge says she would have preferred it if council had decided to continue testing for a little while longer.

The proposal for suspension was brought before council at the last minute, she says, and ideally, she would have liked a little extra time to track Covid trends over the next few weeks and investigate into how other communities are handling the change.

“I’m not entirely convinced the rush to remove them is entirely informed by public health concerns,” she says.


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