(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

Just Posted

Police officers and their dogs undergo training at the RCMP Police Dog Services training centre in Innisfail, Alta., on Wednesday, July 15, 2015. Mounties say they are searching for an armed and dangerous man near a provincial park in northern Alberta who is believed to have shot and killed a service dog during a police chase. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
RCMP search for armed man in northern Alberta after police dog shot and killed

Cpl. Deanna Fontaine says a police service dog named Jago was shot during the pursuit

Alberta now has 2,336 active cases of COVID-19, with 237 people in hospital, including 58 in intensive care. (Black Press file photo)
Red Deer down to 73 active cases of COVID-19, lowest since early November

The Central zone has 253 active cases of the virus

People line up to get their COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination centre, Thursday, June 10, 2021 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Vaccines, low COVID case counts increase Father’s Day hope, but risk is still there

Expert says people will have to do their own risk calculus before popping in on Papa

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is seen during a joint news conference following the EU-Canada Summit, in Brussels, Belgium, Tuesday June 15, 2021. Trudeau says Canada is on track now to have 68 million doses delivered by the end of July, which is more than enough to fully vaccinate all 33.2 million Canadians over the age of 12. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Vaccine deliveries enough to fully vaccinate all eligible Canadians by end of July

Three in four eligible Canadians now have their first dose, nearly one in five fully vaccinated.

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam listens to a question during a news conference, in Ottawa, Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2021. The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases attributed to the highly contagious Delta variant grew in Canada this week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s public health agency reports spike in confirmed cases of Delta variant

More than 2,000 cases of the variant confirmed across all 10 provinces and in one territory

The federal government says it wants to ban most flavoured vaping products in a bid to reduce their appeal to youth. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Craig Mitchelldyer
Health Canada proposes ban on most vaping flavours it says appeal to youth

If implemented, the regulations would restrict all e-cigarette flavours except tobacco, mint and menthol

The Montreal Police logo is seen in Montreal on Wednesday, July 8, 2020. Some Quebec politicians are calling for an investigation after a video was released that appears to show a Montreal police officer with his leg on a young Black man’s neck during an arrest. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
Probe called for after video appearing to show Montreal officer’s knee on Black youth’s neck

Politicians call for investigation after clip evokes memories of George Floyd incident

Thousands of protesters make their way through the downtown core during a Black Lives Matter protest in Ottawa, Friday June 5, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
MPs’ study of systemic racism in policing concludes RCMP needs new model

Chair of the House public safety committee says it’s time for a reckoning on ‘quasi-military’ structure

A case filled with packages of boneless chicken breasts is shown in a grocery store Sunday, May 10, 2020, in southeast Denver. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-David Zalubowski
One million chickens euthanized during labour dispute at Quebec slaughterhouse

Premier says waste amounts to 13 per cent of the province’s chicken production thrown in the garbage

A section of the eastern slopes of the Canadian Rockies is seen west of Cochrane, Alta., Thursday, June 17, 2021. A joint federal-provincial review has denied an application for an open-pit coal mine in Alberta’s Rocky Mountains, saying its impacts on the environment and Indigenous rights aren’t worth the economic benefits it would bring. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Panel says Grassy Mountain coal mine in Alberta Rockies not in public interest

Public hearings on the project in southern Alberta’s Crowsnest Pass region were held last fall

The border crossing into the United States is seen during the COVID-19 pandemic in Lacolle, Que. on Friday, February 12, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
U.S. border restrictions to remain in place until at least July 21

Safety minister says Canada, U.S. extending restrictions on non-essential international travel

Most Read