Alberta premier Jason Kenney answered questions Friday about why he’s not implementing stricter restrictions akin to a “lockdown” as Alberta’s COVID-19 cases soar.
The premier said lockdowns such as those implemented in some European countries are an infringement on citizens’ rights and would challenge Albertans’ ability to earn a living.
What’s more, he said his government’s restrictions are based on public health data to target spread where it’s happening.
“To the people hounding us to shut down restaurants: Why? Data indicates 0.7% of identifiable transmission has occurred in restaurants and similar businesses,” he said at a news conference.
He acknowledged many people who call for lockdowns are well-intentioned, but asked them instead to think about the financial and emotional cost to business operators and their staff who may have to shut down.
“I would ask [those calling for lockdowns] to be compassionate for the people who are barely hanging on,” Kenney said. “To restaurateurs whose life savings are tied up in those businesses who are barely surviving today.”
He added getting to zero new coronavirus infections through heavy-handed lockdowns would have an unacceptable “cost to people’s lives and livelihoods.”
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His comments come the same day that he asked residents in Calgary and Alberta to refrain from inviting people over to their homes because private gatherings in residences are fuelling a large chunk of new infections.
Alberta saw 609 new infections in the last 24 hours, a slight dip from the 802 seen the previous day, but still more than public health officials are comfortable with.