As COVID-19 case counts continue to rise across Alberta, the provincial government has announced the reinstatement of several public health measures.
In a Friday morning press conference, Alberta Minister of Health Tyler Shandro informed Albertans that, effective at 8 am on Saturday, September 4, the province will be making masks mandatory in all indoor public spaces and workplaces.
Schools are not required to implement masking, but individuals school boards can continue to set COVID-19 management policies as they see fit.
Additionally, as of September 4 at 8 am, restaurants, cafes, bars, pubs, nightclubs, and other licensed establishments will be required to end alcohol service at 10 pm. Minister Shandro noted that these venues can remain open past 10 pm, but cannot serve alcohol.
“With hospitalization rates rising, it is important that we take additional steps to help reduce the spread of COVID-19,” said Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, in a media release.
“My ultimate goal continues to be to shift from pandemic to endemic and put more focus on the complete health of Albertans – we must learn to live with COVID. Getting vaccinated today is the best possible way for us to get there,” the doctor added.
The provincial government also encourages Albertans to limit their in-person contacts. To support this, the province strongly recommends that unvaccinated Albertans keep their indoor social gatherings to close contacts of only two cohort families, and up to a maximum of 10 people.
As well, the Alberta government recommends that employers pause their plans to have staff return to in-person work and continue with work-from-home measures when possible.
If employees are working on location, employees must wear masks in all indoor settings, except when at work stations, or where two-metre physical distancing or acceptable physical barriers are in place.
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As of September 2, there are 12,868 active COVID-19 infections in Alberta. There are 487 people in hospital due to the virus, including 114 in intensive care.
Based on information available in mid-August, an updated projection of estimated COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations to the end of September has been developed.
This provincial modelling shows that the number of patients in intensive care could possibly peak at around 180 in the medium scenario, and reach or exceed 290 in the currently projected high scenario.
Other hospitalizations (non-ICU patients) are currently trending toward the high scenario, with a potential peak of 700 in the next several weeks.
Also during the Friday morning press conference, Premier Jason Kenney announced that the provincial government will offer a $100 debit card for anyone 18+ who receives a first or second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine between September 3 and October 14.
“Please step forward,” urged Premier Kenney. “For the love of god, please get vaccinated now.”