With COVID-19 cases numbers still rising at an alarming rate in Alberta, the province leveled stricter measures to help reduce the spread of COVID-19.
In the wake of an additional 1,727 cases Tuesday, a COVID-19 test positivity rate above 9 per cent and more than 20,388 active cases across the province – Premier Jason Kenney announced new restrictions.
“We are now at a place where viral transmission is so widespread in the community, that it does not any longer matter how careful business operators are,” Kenney said.
“We are at a place where we must take these dramatic measures to reduce general, social interaction. It’s the only way we can get on top of this.”
The premier also advised with the rate of transmission and rising case numbers, Albertans should consider keeping Christmas gatherings to just their household.
Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said Monday that the measures put in place on Nov. 24 had not done enough to bend the curb and the new measures will be in place for four weeks, until after the holidays.
The original measures were supposed to be in place until Dec. 18.
A province-wide mask mandate and no social outdoor gatherings will go into effect immediately, with the majority of other measures being dropped Saturday at midnight and will be in place until at least Jan 9, 2021.
“This gives businesses time to prepare for an orderly adoption of these public health orders. These measures will be in effect for at least for weeks and they will apply province-wide,” Kenney said.
“It has always been our preference to have a regionally targeted approach. But we have concluded regrettably that is not a viable option right now.”
The province will make it mandatory for workers to work from home unless an employer determines work requires physical presence for operational effectiveness.
Retail services are reduced to 15 per cent capacity.
The new measures starting on Dec. 13, include closing in-person dining at restaurants and bars, as well as closing lounges, casinos and bingo halls.
Indoor recreation facilities, fitness centres, pools, spas, gyms, studios and indoor rinks will be also be closed on Dec. 13. Outdoor skating rinks and ski hills are allowed to stay open.
Personal wellness services, including hair salons, nail salons, massage, tattoos, and piercing, will also be closed.
While students in grades 7-12 have already been shifted to online learning, elementary schools will remain open.
Alberta now has 654 people in hospital due to COVID-19 and 112 in the ICU. The province has completed more than 19,000 COVID-19 tests in the past 24 hours. The province reported nine more deaths due to the virus and 640 people have died since the beginning of the pandemic.
The Central zone sits at 1,526 active cases of COVID-19 with 50 people in hospital and six in the ICU. Twenty people in the region have died from the virus so far.
Red Deer now has 373 active cases of the virus. Red Deer County sits at 97 active and Sylvan Lake has 66 cases. Mountain View County has 28 active and Kneehill County has 14. Lacombe County has 71 active Lacombe has 46. Camrose has 99 active cases and Camrose County has 34.
Ponoka County, Wetaskiwin County and the City of Wetaskiwin have 296 combined cases.