The Government of Alberta is putting new health measures in place to combat a drastic rise in COVID-19 cases.
On Wednesday (Sept.15), Premier Jason Kenney declared Alberta is once again under a State of Public Health Emergency.
Kenney described the current situation in the province as a crisis, explaining recent trends show we may run out of intensive care beds within the next 10 days. He and chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, also acknowledged the fast approach to reopening the province was a mistake and apologized for their "endemic" plan.
The province is looking at three focus areas in an attempt to protect the health care system: maximize health care capacity, reduce transmission and get as many people as possible vaccinated.
New temporary health measures to help slow the spread of COVID-19 will apply province-wide. This includes implementing a proof of vaccination program, as Alberta is showing the lowest rate of vaccination in Canada.
“These steps are not easy for anyone, but with COVID-19 hospitalizations continuing to rise, particularly amongst the unvaccinated, we have no choice but to implement the proof of vaccination measures and temporary restrictions,” said Kenney.
Starting Monday (Sept.20), businesses or event organizers who choose to implement the program checking patrons for government-issued proof of vaccination or a recent negative privately purchased COVID-19 test will be able to have an exemption to restrictions.
If a business or service chooses not to require proof of vaccination, they will be required to adhere to the new health measures below.
The following measures will take effect on Thursday (Sept.16):
- Mandatory work-from-home measures are in place unless the employer has determined a physical presence is required for operational effectiveness.
Private social gatherings:
- Indoor private gatherings for vaccine-eligible, fully vaccinated individuals are limited to a single household plus one other household to a maximum of 10 people, with no restrictions on children under the age of 12.
- Attendance at any indoor private social gathering is not permitted for vaccine-eligible individuals who are unvaccinated.
- Outdoor private social gatherings are permitted to a maximum of 200 people, with two-metre physical distancing maintained at all times.
Places of worship:
- Places of worship must limit attendance to one-third fire code capacity.
- Face masks will be mandatory and there must be two-metre physical distancing between households or two close contacts for those living alone.
Outdoor events and facilities with no indoor portion (excluding washrooms):
- No attendance restrictions, however two-metre physical distancing must be in place.
Schools (K-12):
- Mandatory masking for students in Grades 4 and up, plus staff and teachers in all grades. Schools that can implement an alternate COVID safety plan can be exempted from mandatory masking.
- Elementary schools are to implement class cohorting.
- Youth aged 18 and under are not required to mask or maintain two-metre distance when engaged in physical activity.
- There are no restrictions on outdoor activities.
- Indoor sports/performance/recreation/special interests are permitted with requirements for two-metre physical distancing, where possible.
Children’s activities:
- Children’s day camps must have two-metre physical distancing between participants and masking indoors.
- Children’s overnight camps must follow cohort models.
The following measures will take effect on Monday:
- Outdoor dining only with a maximum of six individuals per table (one household or two close contacts for those living alone).
- Liquor sales and consumption restrictions (10 p.m. sales and 11 p.m. consumption) apply.
- Restaurants are eligible to implement the Restrictions Exemption Program.
Weddings and funerals:
- All indoor ceremonies and services are limited to 50 attendees or 50 per cent fire code capacity, whichever is less.
- No indoor receptions are permitted. The hosting facility would be eligible to implement the Restrictions Exemption Program.
- All outdoor ceremonies and services for weddings and funerals must be limited to 200 attendees. Outdoor receptions are required to follow liquor sales and consumption restrictions (i.e., sales end at 10 p.m. and consumption ends by 11 p.m.). The hosting facility would be eligible to implement the Restrictions Exemption Program.
Retail, entertainment and recreation facilities (includes any indoor venues, libraries, conferences, rental spaces, concerts, nightclubs, casinos and similar):
- Attendance is limited to one-third fire code capacity and attendees are only permitted to attend with their household or two close contacts for those living alone. Attendees must be masked and have two-metre physical distancing between households. These facilities are eligible to implement the Restrictions Exemption Program.
Adult (over 18 years old) sport, fitness, performance, and recreation:
- No indoor group classes or activities are permitted.
- One-on-one training or individual workouts are permitted but three-metre physical distancing is required.
- No contact between players; indoor competitions are paused except where vaccine exemptions have been granted.
- These facilities and programs are eligible to implement the Restrictions Exemption Program. Specific exemptions may also be granted on a case-by-case basis.
- There are no restrictions on outdoor activities.
Restrictions Exemption Program
Also starting Monday, vaccine-eligible individuals will be required to provide government-issued proof of immunization or a negative privately paid COVID-19 test from within the previous 72 hours to access a variety of participating social, recreational and discretionary events and businesses throughout the province.
To enter certain spaces that are participating in the program, including restaurants, bars and indoor organized events, people aged 12 and older will be required to show their proof of vaccination or a negative recent test result.
Businesses that implement the Restrictions Exemption Program would operate as usual, provided they are serving only people who have proof of immunization or who have a recent privately paid negative test, as per the requirements in place. This means they could immediately and without restriction serve any individual eligible for vaccination who:
- Has proof of double vaccination (note that for a transitional period between Sept. 20 and Oct. 25, proof of a single dose would be considered acceptable as long as the dose was given two weeks or more before the time of service).
- Has documentation of a medical exemption.
- Has proof of a recent (within the previous 72 hours) negative COVID-19 test (either PCR or Rapid Test). The test may not be from Alberta Health Services or Alberta Precision Laboratories.
- Those under age 12 would not need to provide proof of immunization or a negative test to enter a participating business.
- This program would not apply to businesses or entities that need to be accessed for daily living.
Albertans can access copies of their COVID-19 vaccination records through MyHealth Records. For the time being, Albertans should avoid logging into MyHealth Records to download their records. The printable card, which was going to be made available on Thursday, will now be available on Sunday.
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