The Alberta government announced additional COVID-19 measures on Tuesday, as active case counts continue to rise across the province.
During a public address on Tuesday evening, Premier Jason Kenney informed Albertans that further COVID-19 restrictions would be put in place across the province beginning this week. More details followed in a Wednesday morning press conference.
The latest restrictions include new measures for outdoor social gatherings, schools, sports, performance and recreation, retail, restaurants, places of worship, hotels and motels, health, social and professional services, personal and wellness services, indoor fitness, funerals, and post-secondary institutions.
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The restrictions came into effect on Wednesday, May 5, unless otherwise indicated, and will remain in place for at least three weeks.
The Alberta government stated that these measures apply to all Albertans, businesses, organizations, and service providers in municipalities or areas with more than 50 COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people, and with 30 or more active cases.
“This eliminates any distinction in restrictions for hotspot areas,” reads a news release from the Alberta government.
Municipalities that have less than 50 cases per 100,000 people and/or fewer than 30 active cases will be required to return to Step 0 level restrictions.
All other public health measures remain in place across the province, including masking and physical distancing requirements.
The new measures are as follows.
Outdoor social gatherings
All outdoor social gatherings are limited to a maximum of five people, down from the previous 10-person limit. Physical distancing must be maintained between members of separate households, and the government suggests that gatherings be limited to two household cohorts.
All indoor social gatherings are still prohibited.
A maximum of 10 people can attend funeral services, including participants and guests. This is a decrease from the previous limit of 20 attendees and brings funerals to the same limit as wedding services.
Wedding and funeral receptions are still not permitted.
Places of worship
Faith services are limited to 15 in-person attendees, down from the previous 15% capacity limit. Physical distancing must be maintained between members of separate households.
Virtual services are strongly recommended, and drive-in services are allowed, given people do not leave their vehicles and adhere to current guidelines.
All post-secondary learning must shift to online learning only.
Retail services must limit customer capacity to 10% capacity (not including staff), or a minimum of five customers.
All indoor fitness activities and facilities must close, including one-on-one training.
Hotels and motels
Hotels and motels can remain open, but their pools and recreation facilities must close.
Working from home
Working from home remains mandatory unless employees’ physical presence is required for a business to operate effectively.
When employees’ physical presence is required at work, staff must wear masks in all indoor settings, except at work stations or where two-metre physical distancing or adequate physical barriers are in place.
Any workplace with transmission of three or more cases of COVID-19 will be required to close for 10 days.
Work camps and essential and critical services are excluded from this measure.
Schools (effective May 7)
All kindergarten to Grade 12 students will temporarily shift back to online learning beginning May 7 and will continue at-home learning until May 25.
Restaurants, bars, pubs, lounges, and cafes (effective at 11:59 pm on May 9)
In-person dining, indoors and on outdoor patios, will be prohibited. Dining establishments may remain open for takeout or delivery services.
Personal and wellness services (effective at 11:59 pm on May 9)
Personal and wellness services, including hair salons, barbers, nail salons, estheticians, tattoos and piercing, must close. Previously, these were allowed by appointment only.
Health, social, and professional services (effective at 11:59 pm on May 9)
Regulated health services, such as physicians, dentists and chiropractors, and non-regulated health services, such as massage therapists and kinesiologists, can remain open by appointment only.
Professional services, such as lawyers and photographers, can remain open by appointment only.
Social services, such as shelters and not-for-profit community kitchens, can remain open.
Sports, performance, and recreation (effective at 11:59 pm on May 9)
All outdoor sports and recreation are now prohibited, with the exception of members from the same household (or, if living alone, two close contacts). This is a decrease from the current limit of 10 people.
- all group physical activities, such as team sports, fitness classes, training sessions
- all one-on-one lessons and training activities
- all practices, training and games
All indoor sport, recreation, and performance activity are prohibited, including youth sports and performances.
Professional sports organizations that have received an exemption can continue, provided protocols are strictly followed.
The Alberta government says that, in order to reinforce the importance of public health orders and the consequences of not doing so, fines will double to $2,000 for Public Health Act violations.
Repeat offenders, whether these are individuals, organizations or businesses, who continually violate public health orders will be targeted with a new enforcement protocol, effective immediately.
A complete list of current mandatory health measures can be found on the Government of Alberta’s website.