(photo by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)

(photo by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)

Kenney extends mandatory 15-person gathering limit to all communities under COVID-19 watch

Also recommends all Albertans wear a mask in indoor settings

Expressing fears that Alberta’s health-care system may soon be overwhelmed, Premier Jason Kenney has expanded a 15-person limit on social gatherings.

The restriction, which previously applied to Calgary and Edmonton, will now be imposed on every community on the government’s COVID-19 watch list.

The list features communities with 50 cases or more per 100,000 people.

As of the most recent update, Red Deer, Ponoka County, the City of Camrose and Kneehill County all fall under that category.

The government announced 609 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday, a drop from the 802 cases reported Thursday.

“If these numbers continue to grow at the current pace, they will put our health-care system at risk. They will put our economy at risk and our loved ones at risk,” Kenney said.

“Every Albertan needs to be concerned about these numbers… this is a turning point. If we don’t bend the curve now, we will face tougher choices in the days ahead.”

The restriction applies to parties and informal family gatherings, as well as weddings, funerals and banquets. It does not apply to restaurants and fitness centres, or seated events such as sports and shows.

As justification for not taking more stringent measures, such as a lockdown, Kenney said that just 0.7 per cent of identifiable COVID transmission occurred in restaurants and similar businesses.

Kenney added that sweeping lockdowns “indiscriminately violate people’s rights and destroy livelihoods.”

He recommended all Albertans wear a mask in indoor settings.

Red Deer city council will receive a COVID-19 update on Monday from the city manager and will be asked to set a special meeting for a further report.

“This is a fluid situation that we are monitoring on a daily basis,” Mayor Tara Veer said in a statement late Friday afternoon.

“The city’s emergency operations centre has been, and will remain, in close contact with Alberta Health officials, and will assess the need for additional safety measures in our community, depending on recommendations of the health authority.”

Veer said the precautions could include enhancements to the city’s existing face-covering bylaw, tightening restrictions at city facilities, or any other gathering limits mandated by Alberta Health.

Kenney said eight additional deaths were reported over the past two days, bringing the death toll in the province to 351.

There are 171 cases in hospital and 33 in ICU.

No new COVID-19 case numbers for communities were provided Friday. Those numbers are expected to be updated Monday.

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, said the province is still experiencing problems with its data system and is still only able to provide a general update on the case numbers for the province.

She said in addition to the health measures the premier advised of Friday, Albertans need to take personal responsibility for fighting the virus.

“It will take all of us working together in being as careful as possible to reverse this trend, but it is possible.

“It has been a challenging year, but one thing remains true: we are in this together and we are strongest together,” she said.

Coronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Alberta Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw reported an additional 456 COVID-19 cases over the past 24 hours. (photography by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
Five new COVID-19 deaths in Central zone, two in Red Deer

Province reports 456 new cases of COVID-19

The team that disconnected, lifted and loaded the old Bobtail Road bridge. (Photo submitted)
Bobtail Road bridge moves to new home in Meridian Beach

The 100-year-old bridge was moved Jan. 14

Whether the Town of Ponoka gets enough ‘bang for its buck’ under its Alberta Urban Municipalities Association (AUMA) membership was discussed during town council March 26.
File photo
Town of Ponoka appoints Sandra Lund as CAO

Ponoka town council voted unanimously at its regular meeting on Jan.12 to… Continue reading

Kelowna RCMP Stock Image.
Ponoka RCMP respond to several B&E’s

Calls include complaint of a spray painted garage

Black Press file photo
Maskwacis male charged with 2nd degree murder

18-year-old Kaydence Clark Roasting of Ermineskin Cree Nation was arrested at his residence.

A scene from “Canada and the Gulf War: In their own words,” a video by The Memory Project, a program of Historica Canada, is shown in this undated illustration. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO - Historica Canada
New video marks Canada’s contributions to first Gulf War on 30th anniversary

Veterans Affairs Canada says around 4,500 Canadian military personnel served during the war

In this March 28, 2017, file photo, a dump truck hauls coal at Contura Energy’s Eagle Butte Mine near Gillette, Wyo. Public opposition to the Alberta government’s plans to expand coal mining in the Rocky Mountains appears to be growing. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Mead Gruver, File
Alberta cancels coal leases, pauses future sales, as opposition increases

New Democrat environment critic Marlin Schmidt welcomed the suspension

COVID update Jan. 19
Ponoka County COVID-19 numbers on steady decline

Numbers of active cases of COVID-19 have continued to drop in Ponoka… Continue reading

File photo
Wetaskiwin Crime Reduction Unit recovers valuable stolen property

Property valued at over $50,000 recovered by Wetaskiwin Crime Reduction Unit.

In this March 28, 2017, file photo, a dump truck hauls coal at Contura Energy’s Eagle Butte Mine near Gillette, Wyo. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Mead Gruver, File)
First Nations seek to intervene in court challenge of coal policy removal

Bearspaw, Ermineskin and Whitefish First Nations are among those looking to intervene

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau provides an update on the COVID-19 pandemic from Rideau Cottage in Ottawa on Tuesday, Jan. 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau provides an update on the COVID-19 pandemic from Rideau Cottage in Ottawa on Tuesday, Jan. 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Trudeau vows to keep up the fight to sway U.S. on merits of Keystone XL pipeline

Canada’s pitch to the Biden team has framed Keystone XL as a more environmentally friendly project than original

Central Alberta’s Catherine Hayreceived a letter from the Government of Canada recently stating she had to repay the government. Photo submitted
Central Albertan asked to repay CERB amount

Catherine Hay says she received a letter in November saying she had to completely repay the benefit

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
No Pfizer vaccines arriving in Canada next week; feds still expect 4M doses by end of March

More cases of U.K. variant, South African variant found in Canada

Health-care workers wait in line at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Canadians who have had COVID-19 should still get the vaccine, experts say

Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines were found to have a 95 per cent efficacy

Most Read