On November 24, a month before the biggest shopping day of the year, Alberta retailers have been placed under a partial lockdown as the province deals with a dramatic surge in COVID-19 cases.
Premier Jason Kenney declared “a state of public emergency “ November 24 that will last for three weeks.
The announcement was made on a day the province reported 1,115 new cases and 13,349 active cases of the coronavirus, by far the highest number to date. Sixteen deaths were also reported.
The “bold and targeted new measures” also ban indoor social gatherings, bans outdoor gatherings to 10 persons and ends in-person learning at the end of November for kids in Grades 7 to 12.
Many businesses will now be either closed for in-person shopping, open with restricted capacity or open by appointment only.
Banquet halls, conference centres, trade shows, concert venues, non-approved/licenced markets and community centres are closed. Children's play places, indoor playgrounds and all levels of sport are also banned from in-person activities. Sports leagues may apply for exemptions.
Most retail businesses may remain open with capacity limited to 25 per cent of the occupancy set under the Alberta Fire Code, including retail stores, grocery stores, pharmacies, clothing stores, computer and technology stores, hardware, automotive, farmers markets and outdoor seasonal markets. Some entertainment services fall under the 25 per cent threshold as well, like movie theatres, museums, libraries, casinos, indoor entertainment centres and indoor fitness centres. The measures include dance and yoga studios, martial arts, gymnastics and private or public swimming pools.
Other businesses open by appointment only are not permitted to offer walk-in services. Appointments should be limited to one-on-one services. These businesses include hotels, motels, hunting and fishing lodges, personal services such as hair salons and barbershops and tattoo services; wellness services including acupuncture, massage and reflexology; professional services such as lawyers, mediators, accountants and photographers; and private one-on-one lessons (no private group lessons permitted).
Bars and restaurants can continue in-person dining but must comply with guidelines and those seated at tables together must be part of same household.
Kenney said his government will re-evaluate the new restrictions on December 15 and impose stricter measures if case numbers continue to rise at the current rate.
"If we do not start to bend the curve with this latest round of measures and greater efforts by Alberta, let me be blunt: we will impose stricter measures," Kenney said.