Edmonton has halted the removal of homeless camps on public land during the COVID-19 pandemic, citing safety reasons.

The city’s encampment response team has “paused” enforcement operations, meaning they are no longer giving occupants of camps on public land notice to vacate, city spokeswoman Adrienne Cloutier said Thursday.

“In light of COVID, we’re not telling anyone they have to pack up and move along,” she said. “On the contrary, we’re pausing any type of suggestion they need to move along. Rather, we’re doing … welfare checks to make sure they’re OK.”

As of April, there were 1,845 people experiencing homelessness in Edmonton, according to non-profit agency Homeward Trust.