Ten weeks after Premier Jason Kenney announced a grand ‘summer opening’ for the province, Alberta has moved to lockdown mode after a dramatic increase in COVID-19 infections.
"No more bans on indoor social gatherings. No more limits for gyms, sports, and fitness activities. No more capacity limits at restaurants, in retail or for places of worship. No more advisories against non-essential travel,” Kenney had said July 1 as Alberta became the first province to remove all COVID-19 restrictions.
On September 15, the premier issued a new statement:
“We are taking necessary and critical steps to prevent our health system from being overwhelmed, “Kenney said in a release. “We have no choice but to implement the proof of vaccination measures and temporary restrictions.”
The new health measures to help slow the spread of COVID-19 will apply provincewide. Measures in workplaces, indoor private gatherings, places of worship, schools and children’s activities, as well as mandatory masking and physical distancing in all indoor public are now in effect.
This includes new restrictions on restaurants, indoor gatherings, weddings and funerals, retail, entertainment venues, and indoor sport and fitness beginning Monday, September 20.
At that time, businesses or event organizers who choose to implement a program checking patrons for government-issued proof of vaccination or a recent negative COVID-19 test will be able to have an exemption to restrictions. If a business or service chooses not to require proof of vaccination, they will be required to adhere to the new health measures.
“I am calling on every eligible Albertan to get fully immunized as soon as possible,” said Tyler Shandro, Alberta’s Minister of Health
Workplaces: Mandatory work-from-home measures are in place unless the employer has determined a physical presence is required for operational effectiveness.
Private social gatherings: Indoor private gatherings for vaccine-eligible, fully vaccinated adults are limited to a single household plus one other household to a maximum of 10 people. Attendance at any indoor private social gathering is not permitted for unvaccinated adults. Outdoor private social gatherings are permitted to a maximum of 200 people, with two-metre physical distancing maintained at all times.
Retail, entertainment and recreation facilities: Attendance is limited to one-third fire code capacity and attendees are only permitted to attend with their household or two close contacts for those living alone. Attendees must be masked and have two-metre physical distancing between households.
More than 79.5 per cent of eligible Albertans have had at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine and 71.4 per cent are fully vaccinated, according to the Minister of Health. Alberta health data as of September 15 showed 877 patients in hospital with COVID-19, including the highest number – 218 – in intensive care units (ICU) since the pandemic began. Ninety-one per cent of ICU patients are not fully vaccinated.