New voluntary COVID public health measure announced by Premier Kenney, Dr. Hinshaw: no social gatherings at Edmonton, Calgary homes

The Province of Alberta has introduced or widened three new public health measures to stop the spread of the COVID-19, including the request to Edmontonians and Calgarians to voluntarily stop hosting social gatherings in their homes. 

“Until cases slow, we must press pause on hosting any gatherings involving people outside your core family or immediate household,” said Alberta Premier Jason Kenney. 

“A lot of people will say the government has no business telling us who we host at home or what kind of socializing we do,” said Kenney. “But here’s the reality: if we don’t take these kinds of simple measures, and make these sorts of modest sacrifices to social life, the cases will continue to grow to a point where they may grow out of control.”

It’s not restaurants

In the last two days, the province has identified 1,411 new cases of COVID-19. Eight people have died over the last two days.

“To be blunt, all that we have accomplished together is now at risk,” said Kenney. 

According to the province, there are 6,230 active cases in Alberta. Of that, 42 percent of cases (2,642) are in the Edmonton zone, and just under 42 per cent of cases (2610) are in the Calgary zone. 

“If you know somebody who’s waiting for health care, somebody who’s in a hospital or might need hospital care, this affects you.”

Premier Jason Kenney

The transmission risk is greater at parties, get-togethers and gatherings with friends, neighbours and extended families, data show.

“For example, we are not seeing widespread transmission in restaurants,” said Premier Kenney. “In fact, fewer than 1 per cent of active cases in Edmonton and Calgary are currently linked to exposure in restaurants.”

“That’s because operators and staff have worked extremely hard to adopt health guidance and protect the health of customers.”

By contrast, 40 percent of active cases in the two big cities are linked to household transmissions or to private events, said Kenney.

Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Chief Medical Officer of Health, November 6, 2020.

I am sorry, but it’s critical…

Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, said the measures will affect many people, and they are not taken lightly. 

“For those whose wedding receptions, family gatherings, or birthday parties may be impacted, I am sorry for the challenge this change will bring,” said Hinshaw. 

“It is critical, however, that we bring our numbers down to protect our health system and our communities.”

Other measures

The mandatory 15-person limit on social gatherings is being expanded to include all communities on the watch list. Right now, 46 municipalities and 31 local geographic areas in the province are on the list. 

As well, voluntary measures in place in Edmonton and Calgary are now strongly recommended for any community on the watch list. They include the recommendation to: 

• limit cohorts to no more than three (core, school, sport/social), and, 

• wear a mask in all work sessions, except alone in a workspace like an office or cubicle where you are safely distanced from others, or an appropriate barrier is in place. 

Health of the health system 

Alberta Health Services recently postponed approximately 30 percent of non-urgent surgeries and some ambulatory care clinics in the Edmonton zone, and hospitalizations are rising in Calgary. Hospital admissions remain at a record high in Edmonton, said the Premier.

“This is not a potential future reality,” said Kenney. “It is today’s reality.” 

“So, if you know somebody who’s waiting for health care, somebody who’s in a hospital or might need hospital care, this affects you. It affects all of us.” 

Editor’s note: the pic at the top of the post is a screenshot of Premier Jason Kenney, November 6, 2020.