By Rob Vogt, Local Press Writer
As the number of COVID-19 infections continues to rise in Alberta, the provincial government has announced new measures to prevent the spread of the virus including the prohibition of all social gatherings and mandatory masking in all public spaces.
On Tuesday afternoon, Premier Jason Kenney announced the measures in a news conference.
“Alberta has sought to protect both lives and livelihoods from the beginning of the pandemic. The recent surge in COVID-19 hospitalizations will threaten our health-care system and the lives of many vulnerable Albertans unless further action is taken now. With the promise of a vaccine early in 2021, we can see the end of this terrible time. But all Albertans must take this more seriously than ever by staying home whenever possible, and following these new measures,” said the premier.
New expanded mandatory measures came into effect Dec. 8 for social gatherings and mandatory masking.
Immediately, all indoor and outdoor social gatherings – public and private – are prohibited. Close contacts are limited to household members only. Individuals who live alone will be allowed up to two close contacts for in-person visiting, with those two people remaining the same for the duration of the restriction period.
Immediately, the mandatory indoor public masking requirement will be extended provincewide.
Public spaces include locations where a business or entity operates and is applicable to employees, visitors and the general public.
Applies to all indoor workplaces and facilities outside the home.
Farm operations are excluded.
Rental accommodations used solely for the purposes of a private residence are excluded.
All other measures come into effect at 12:01 a.m., on Dec. 13.
Places of worship
All places of worship will be limited to 15 per cent of fire code occupancy for in-person attendance. Virtual or online services are strongly encouraged. Drive-in services where individuals do not leave their vehicles and adhere to guidance will be permissible and are not subject to capacity restrictions. Mandatory mask mandate, physical distancing and other guidelines remain in place.
Retail services must reduce customer capacity to 15 per cent of fire code occupancy, with a minimum of five customers permitted. Curbside pickup, delivery and online services are encouraged. Shopping malls will be limited to 15 per cent of fire code occupancy.
Restaurants, pubs, bars, lounges and cafes will be closed to in-person service. Only takeout, curbside pickup and delivery services are permitted.
Recreational facilities – fitness centres, recreation centres, pools, spas, gyms, studios, day and overnight camps, indoor rinks and arenas – will be closed.
Outdoor recreation is permitted, but facilities with indoor spaces except for washrooms will be closed.
Entertainment businesses and entities – libraries, science centres, interpretive centres, museums, galleries, amusement parks and water parks – will be closed.
Personal and wellness services, including hair salons, nail salons, massage, tattoos, and piercing, will be closed.
Health services, including physiotherapy or acupuncture, social or protective services, shelters for vulnerable persons, emergency services, child care, and not-for-profit community kitchens or charitable kitchens will remain open for in-person attendance.
Work from home
Mandatory work from home measures will be implemented unless the employer determines that work requires a physical presence for operational effectiveness.