Alberta Premier Jason Kenney said the virus is starting to win.
“COVID is starting to win and we cannot let that happen,” said Kenney via telephone link into a Government of Alberta news conference on Thursday, November 12.
“This two week push is, I believe, our last chance to avoid more restrictive measures that I and most Albertans desperately want to avoid,” Kenney said. “If we focus our efforts for the next two weeks and embrace these common sense measures, we can reduce the spread and protect our hospital system.”
Indoor group fitness classes, and liquor sales time limit
Starting, Friday, November 13, there will be a two-week ban on indoor group fitness classes, team sport activities and group performance activities in Edmonton and surrounding areas, Calgary and surrounding areas, Grande Prairie, Lethbridge, Fort McMurray and Red Deer.
Also effective November 13, in all regions of the province under enhanced status, restaurants, bars, lounges and pubs must stop liquor sales by 10 p.m. and close by 11 p.m. This is also in effect for two weeks.
Enhanced status means more than 50 active cases of COVID per 100,000 population. Edmonton is on that list.
“Extended drinking and socializing in these settings, which primarily occurs late at night, poses a risk for spreading COVID-19,” Kenney said, adding that the vast majority of businesses in the hospitality sector have shown “great care and responsibility” over the past few months.
“Unfortunately, we’ve seen a growing number of violations where bars and pubs, in particular, have turned into virtual nightclubs.”
Weddings, funerals, social gatherings at homes
Also announced by the premier, and in effect until stress on the health system is reduced, is a limit of 50 attendees at funerals and weddings. As well, worship services are limited to one-third of regular capacity per service.
Remaining in place is a voluntary ban on social gatherings in Edmonton and Calgary homes,
Premier in self-isolation
Kenney revealed he is in two weeks of self-isolation after close contact on Monday, November 9, with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19. The premier is awaiting his test result.
860 new cases
Dr. Deena Hinshaw, the Province’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, said there were 860 new cases of COVID identified in Alberta yesterday.
Current numbers show there are 8,305 active cases in the province. Of that number, 41 percent are in the Edmonton zone (3,387 cases) and 42 percent are in the Calgary zone (3,504 cases).
“We have seen large increases, as you’ve heard, in active cases in continuing care and in First Nations communities over the last few weeks,” said Hinshaw.
“There are many, many people who are doing their best to prevent further spread in these settings. Workers in long-term care settings are going above and beyond to care for residents with complex health needs, to support those with COVID and prevent spread to others.”
Praise for First Nations leadership
Hinshaw singled out for public thanks the health teams and leaders in the Saddle Lake Cree First Nation in northern Alberta and the Siksika First Nation in southern Alberta, where cases are on the rise.
“First Nations communities across the province, including these two, have done a remarkable job in protecting their communities and preventing spread,” Hinshaw said.
After appearing at a pre-budget news conference at City Hall, Interim City Manager Adam Laughlin said the City of Edmonton will follow the new restrictions laid out by the province.
“Starting tomorrow, The City will cancel all programmed fitness classes and group recreation bookings for the next two weeks,” Laughlin said. “Recreation centres will remain open for individual fitness activities.”
Laughlin confirmed that City of Edmonton enforcement officers will help enforce the new restrictions at clubs and bars alongside the Public Safety Compliance Team.
“The announcement from Premier Kenney today is relatively fresh and there are a number of details that still need to be clarified,” said Laughlin. “Updated information will be available on edmonton.ca as we understand more about how these restrictions affect City services.”
Editor’s note: the pic at the top of the post is a screenshot of a news conference in Edmonton featuring Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, left, Health Minister Tyler Shandro, on video link, and Alberta Premier Jason Kenney on phone.