Alberta brings in proof of vaccination program, further COVID-19 restrictions

Sep 15 2021, 5:58 pm

Alberta is bringing in a proof of vaccination program and new restrictions as COVID-19 cases in the province continue to balloon.

Premier Jason Kenney announced changes coming to the province’s COVID-19 response on Wednesday evening, alongside Minister of Health Tyler Shandro and chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw.

“With unvaccinated patients overwhelming our hospitals, this is the only responsible choice we have,” Kenney said.

Starting Monday, September 20, under the new Restrictions Exemption Program, vaccine-eligible individuals will be required to provide government-issued proof of immunization or a privately paid, negative COVID-19 test from the past 72 hours to access a variety of participating social, recreational, and discretionary events and businesses throughout the province.

This means that in order to enter places that are participating in the program, including restaurants, bars, and organized indoor events, people aged 12 and older will be required to show their proof of vaccination or a negative recent test result.

“These steps are not easy for anyone, but with COVID-19 hospitalizations continuing to rise, particularly amongst the unvaccinated, we have no choice but to implement the proof of vaccination measures and temporary restrictions,” Kenney said in a news release from the Government of Alberta.

Businesses that implement the Restrictions Exemption Program can operate as usual, provided they are serving only people who have proof of immunization or a recent negative COVID-19 test, as per the requirements in place.

Businesses who choose to exempt themselves from the Restrictions Exemption Program will be required to follow new public health measures, said Shandro.

The new measures that come into place on Thursday, September 16, include the following:

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 individuals are limited to a single household plus one other household to a maximum of 10 people, with no restrictions on children under the age of 12.
  • Attendance at any indoor private social gathering is not permitted for vaccine-eligible individuals who are unvaccinated.
  • Outdoor private social gatherings are permitted to a maximum of 200 people, with two-metre physical distancing maintained at all times.

Places of worship

  • Places of worship must limit attendance to one-third fire code capacity.
  • Face masks will be mandatory and there must be two-metre physical distancing between households or two close contacts for those living alone.

Outdoor events and facilities with no indoor portion (excluding washrooms)

  • No attendance restrictions, however two-metre physical distancing must be in place.

Schools (Kindergarten to Grade 12 students)

  • Mandatory masking for students in grades 4 and up, plus staff and teachers in all grades. Schools that can implement an alternate COVID safety plan can be exempted from mandatory masking.
  • Elementary schools are to implement class cohorting.
  • For physical activities in schools:
    • Youth aged 18 and under are not required to mask or maintain two-metre distance when engaged in physical activity.
    • There are no restrictions on outdoor activities.
    • Indoor sports/performance/recreation/special interests are permitted with requirements for two-metre physical distancing, where possible.

Children’s sport, performance, and recreation

  • Indoor activities are permitted, with requirements for two-metre physical distancing and masking where possible, and symptom screening for participants.
  • Youth aged 18 and under are not required to mask or maintain physical distancing during a physical activity, such as a team sport.
  • Spectator attendance is limited to one-third fire code capacity. Attendees must be masked and ensure physical distancing between different households or an individual who lives alone and their two close contacts.
  • There are no restrictions on outdoor activities.

Children’s activities

  • Children’s day camps must have two-metre physical distancing between participants and masking indoors.                                                    
  • Children’s overnight camps must follow cohort models.

A second round of restrictions will be put in place on Monday, September 20; however, eligible businesses can avoid these by taking part in the Restrictions Exemption Program.

These restrictions include:

Restaurants

  • Outdoor dining only with a maximum of six individuals per table (one household or two close contacts for those living alone).
  • Liquor sales and consumption restrictions (10 pm sales and 11 pm consumption) apply.

Weddings and funerals

  • All indoor ceremonies and services are limited to 50 attendees or 50 per cent fire code capacity, whichever is less.
  • No indoor receptions are permitted.
    • The hosting facility would be eligible to implement the Restrictions Exemption Program.
  • All outdoor ceremonies and services for weddings and funerals must be limited to 200 attendees. Outdoor receptions are required to follow liquor sales and consumption restrictions (i.e., sales end at 10 p.m. and consumption ends by 11 p.m.).
    • The hosting facility would be eligible to implement the Restrictions Exemption Program.

Retail, entertainment and recreation facilities (including any indoor venues, libraries, conferences, rental spaces, concerts, nightclubs, and casinos)

  • 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.
    • These facilities are eligible to implement the Restrictions Exemption Program.

Adult sport, fitness, performance, and recreation

  • Indoor activities:
    • No indoor group classes or activities are permitted.
    • One-on-one training or individual workouts are permitted but three-metre physical distancing is required.
    • No contact between players; indoor competitions are paused except where vaccine exemptions have been granted.
    • These facilities and programs are eligible to implement the Restrictions Exemption Program. Specific exemptions may also be granted on a case-by-case basis.
  • There are no restrictions on outdoor activities.

As of September 14, 79.5% of eligible Albertans are immunized against COVID-19 with at least one dose of the vaccine, and 71.4% are fully vaccinated with two doses.

Laine MitchellLaine Mitchell

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