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New Alberta COVID-19 restrictions include ban on social gatherings, restaurant closures

Wednesday, December 09, 2020 @ 10:24 AM | By Ian Burns

Alberta announced a suite of stringent new restrictions to fight the explosion of COVID-19 cases in the province.

As of Dec. 8, all indoor and outdoor social gatherings — public and private — are prohibited. Close contacts are limited to household members only, and people who live alone will be allowed up to two close contacts for in-person visiting, with those two people remaining the same for the duration of the restriction period. Masks are now mandatory for all indoor facilities.

“The recent surge in COVID-19 hospitalizations will threaten our health-care system and the lives of many vulnerable Albertans unless further action is taken now,” said Premier Jason Kenney in a press release. “With the promise of a vaccine early in 2021, we can see the end of this terrible time. But all Albertans must take this more seriously than ever by staying home whenever possible, and following these new measures.”

A number of additional measures come into effect Dec. 13. Attendance at all places of worship and retail outlets will be limited to 15 per cent of fire code occupancy. Restaurants and bars will be closed to in-person service, but takeout and delivery is permitted. Casinos and recreational facilities such as fitness and recreation centres will be closed.

“These mandatory measures will help us slow the spread of COVID-19. This will require individual sacrifices that are necessary to protect our province,” said Alberta’s chief medical officer of health Deena Hinshaw. “It’s not just about one person, it’s about doing what we can to protect and save our loved ones, colleagues, neighbours and even strangers. Following these public health measures is how we as Albertans care for and protect each other.”

Alberta reported 1,727 new cases of COVID-19 Tuesday, which brings the total number of active cases in the province to 20,388 — the highest in Canada. There are 654 people in hospital, and 640 people have died of the virus.

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