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Alberta Premier Jason Kenney

Stronger public health restrictions for Alberta as province deals with third wave of COVID-19

Wednesday, May 05, 2021 @ 11:54 AM | By Ian Burns

Alberta has brought in stringent new public health restrictions as it faces down the third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has resulted in the province having the highest number of cases per capita in Canada and the United States.

The new provisions include restrictions on outdoor social gatherings, schools, retail, restaurants, places of worship, personal and wellness services, outdoor sports and fitness, funerals and post-secondary institutions. Premier Jason Kenney called them “a last resort and a necessary step.”

 Premier Jason Kenney

Premier Jason Kenney

“We have always sought as a province to protect both lives and livelihoods throughout the pandemic — this has meant resisting pressure to implement widespread and long-term lockdown policies because we recognize their severe impact on people’s lives,” he said during televised address May 4 announcing the restrictions. “Government should not impair people’s lives or livelihoods unless it is necessary to save lives and to prevent disaster from unfolding in our hospitals. Unfortunately, that is the situation we are facing today.”

As of May 5, all outside social gatherings are limited to no more than five people in communities with more than 50 cases per 100,000 people and 30 or more active cases. All indoor fitness must close in those communities, and retail services must limit customer capacity to 10 per cent of fire code occupancy (not including staff) “or a minimum of five customers”.

All kindergarten to Grade 12 students will temporarily shift to at-home learning in the affected areas, starting on May 7. Students will return to in-class learning on May 25. Exceptions will continue to be available for students with disabilities so they can continue to attend in-person classes as necessary. Faith services are limited to in-person attendance of 15 people. Working from home remains mandatory unless the employer requires the employee’s physical presence to operate effectively.

Effective at 11:59 p.m. on May 9 in the affected areas, restaurants are only open for takeout and delivery. Hair salons, barbers and nail salons must close. Regulated health services, such as physicians, dentists and chiropractors, can remain open by appointment only.

“These measures are tough but have proven to work. Rising cases and hospitalizations mean we must take stricter measures in order to protect capacity in our health system,” said Health Minister Tyler Shandro. “These mandatory new health measures are some of the strictest we’ve implemented, but they are absolutely critical to the future of our province.”

 Minister of Justice and Solicitor General Kaycee Madu

Minister of Justice and Solicitor General Kaycee Madu

And the new restrictions will also be coupled with higher penalties for violating them. Fines will double to $2,000 for Public Health Act violations. Repeat offenders, whether individuals, organizations or businesses, who are repeatedly or continually violating public health orders will be targeted with a new enforcement protocol.

“Most Albertans have gone above and beyond in making sacrifices to protect themselves and others from COVID-19, and yet there are some who refuse to follow public health orders and flaunt their non-compliance,” said Minister of Justice and Solicitor General Kaycee Madu. “There’s no excuse for this type of behaviour in the face of a public health crisis.”

Communities with fewer than 50 cases per 100,000 people and or/fewer than 30 active cases will have separate requirements. Further information about all the restrictions can be found here.

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