'Necessary step:' Alberta bringing in tighter restrictions in COVID-19 hot spots

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EDMONTON — Alberta is targeting COVID-19 hot spots with tighter restrictions that include at-home learning for junior and senior high school students and a ban on indoor fitness and sports.

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney also says curfews will be considered if numbers go higher.

"Today Alberta is taking another hard but necessary step," Kenney told a news conference Thursday.

"I know we are all tired of this pandemic and just want to move on."

The restrictions will apply to areas with more than 350 cases per 100,000 population and will be in place for a minimum of two weeks.

Those areas include the cities of Edmonton, Calgary, Red Deer, Grande Prairie, Lethbridge, Airdrie and the county of Strathcona.

Restaurants are still allowed to serve people outside, but Kenney said the government will step up efforts to make sure they verify that diners sitting together are from the same household.

The province will also step up its enforcement of public-health measures, he said.

The premier said leading indicators of infection are still rising. There were 632 people in hospital with COVID-19 on Thursday, 151 of them receiving intensive care.

Kenney said the test positivity rate in the province is sitting at 10 per cent and variants now make up more than 60 per cent of all cases.

Chief medical health officer Dr. Deena Hinshaw reported another 2,048 cases and three more deaths. There were another 1,300 cases of variants of concern confirmed.

The total number of active cases sat at 21,385, a number that is inching closer to a record set in mid-December.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 29, 2021.

Dean Bennett, The Canadian Press