Alberta Premier Jason Kenney declared a state of public health emergency for the province on November 24, 2020, at a joint press conference with the Alberta Health Minister, Tyler Shandro, and Alberta Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw. After grimly detailing the province’s current COVID-19 situation, the Premier announced new public health measures and restrictions for the province aimed at slowing our current rate of infection.
Jason Kenney disclosed that 1,115 new cases and 16 more deaths had been reported for the day alone. The additional 16 deaths bring the total number to 492 people who have died since March, with 103 of that number occurring in just the past two weeks. By all metrics, the spread of the virus appears to be picking up speed. Kenney explained the rationale behind the new public health measures saying, “Yes, our policy is based partly on protecting the vulnerable while minimizing damage to our broader social health. But to protect the vulnerable, we all have to do our part in limiting community spread.”
The public health measures and restrictions announced will be in place for a minimum of three weeks, at which point they will be reviewed. If there has been a significant drop in our daily number of new cases, we may be able to ease some of them. If these measures have not been shown to have a meaningful impact, more drastic measures may be implemented.
Here is a breakdown of the new restrictions:
Social Gatherings (Effective Immediately Across Alberta)
• Indoor social gatherings will no longer be permitted. Indoor social contact should be limited to those within a single household. People that live by themselves can have up to two non-household social contacts. Does not apply to home-based services (Healthcare, Homecare, and Childcare).
• Outdoor gatherings will be limited to a maximum of 10 people. • Wedding ceremonies and funerals will be limited to a maximum of 10 people and receptions will not be permitted.
• People that do not follow these restrictions may be subject to fines. The province will be looking at ways to allow Peace Officers to deliver fines to anyone who violates these limits. The fines mentioned were $1000 for a ticketed offence and up to $100,000 through the courts.
• The Emergency Alert System will be used later this week to notify Albertans of these limits.
Businesses (Effective Friday, November 27 in Enhanced Status Regions)
Closed For In-Person Businesses
• banquet halls, conference centers, concert venues, community centers, trade shows, children’s play places, Indoor playgrounds, All levels of team and individual sport (Leagues can apply for exemptions if they have well-developed safety plans).
Open with Restricted Capacity
• Retail businesses and services can remain open but are restricted to 25% of their occupancy limits or a minimum of 5 customers, whichever is higher.
• Entertainment and Event Services – movie theatres, libraries, museums, and galleries.
• Indoor Entertainment – racing centers, bingo halls, water parks, and amusement parks.
• Fitness and Recreation Centers – pools, physical activity centers, dance and yoga studios, martial arts studios, and gymnastics centers. No group fitness classes, group training, team practices or games. Centers can be open for individual time, exercise, or training only. Instructors can use facilities to broadcast virtual fitness classes, but in-person group classes will be permitted.
• Casinos – slot machines only, no table games. Liquor sales must cease by 10 PM.
• Retail – grocery stores, pharmacies, clothing stores, computer and tech stores, hardware stores, automotive stores, farmers markets approved by Alberta Agriculture and Forestry, and outdoor seasonal markets (providing that public health measures are in place).
• Restaurants, bars, pubs, and cafes – A maximum of 6 people per table, and they must be from the same household. No movement between tables is permitted. Only seated eating or drinking is allowed. No other services are permitted (bar service, entertainment, billiards, darts). Must stop serving liquor at 10 pm and close by 11 pm. If the restrictions are not followed, fines and orders will be issued. Inspections will be increased to make sure public health measures are being followed.
Open by Appointment Only
• Hair salons, barbershops, aesthetics, professional services, hotels and motels, hunting and fishing lodges, private 1 on 1 lessons (Music lessons, and personal training).
• Masks will be mandatory for all indoor workplaces in Edmonton and Calgary medical zones. This includes employees, delivery drivers, visitors, and contractors. Exceptions are when working alone, alone in an office or cubicle, or where an appropriate barrier is in place.
• Workers who can work from home are asked to do so.
• Grades 7 – 12 – Starting November 30, all students in grades 7 – 12 will move to at-home schooling. Winter break will be from December 18 - January 3, 2021. Will return to in-person schooling on January 11, 2021. Diploma exams will be optional for the rest of 2021.
• Kindergarten – Grade 6 – Will remain in regular classes until Winter break, from December 18 - January 3, 2021. Will school from home from January 4 – January 8. Will return to in-person schooling on January 11, 2021.
Places of Worship (Enhanced Status Regions)
• Attendance will be capped at 1/3 of the building’s maximum occupancy according to the fire code. Attendees will need to wear masks and must maintain physical distancing between households.
• In-person faith group meetings can continue if attendees maintain physical distance and follow public health measures.
Dean LaBerge, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Grizzly Gazette