By Trevor Busch and Ian Croft
Alberta’s government is declaring a state of public health emergency and putting aggressive measures in place to protect the health system and reduce the rising spread of COVID-19 cases.
New restrictions and increased enforcement will reduce the spread of COVID-19 in communities, protect hospitals, keep schools and businesses open as much as possible, and better protect vulnerable Albertans.
There are now 13,349 active cases of COVID-19 in the province.
“We are taking strong, targeted new measures to protect both lives and livelihoods and bend the COVID-19 curve back down. Today (Nov. 24) we have declared a state of public health emergency, taking firm action to protect Albertans’ health and our health-care system. Without these measures, we will soon have to cancel thousands of surgeries and other health services. Albertans must act together to protect the vulnerable,” said Premier Jason Kenney.
New public health measures
Not following mandatory restrictions could result in fines of $1,000 per ticketed offence and up to $100,000 through the courts.
Provincewide measures Public and private gatherings
Effective immediately, mandatory restrictions on social gatherings are in effect provincewide. These measures will be in place until further notice and include:
• No indoor social gatherings are permitted in any setting, including workplaces.
• Outdoor social gatherings are limited to a maxi- mum of 10 people.
• Funeral services and wedding ceremonies must fol- low all public health guidance and are limited to a maximum of 10 in-person attendees. Receptions are not permitted.
In all schools, Grades 7-12 will move to at-home learning on Nov. 30, ending in-person classes early.
• Students in early childhood services and Grades K- 6 will remain learning in-person until Dec. 18.
• All students will return to at-home learning after the winter break and resume in-person learning on Jan. 11, 2021.
• These measures are mandatory.
Diploma exams are optional for the rest of the school year. Students and their families can choose whether to write the exam or receive an exemption for the April, June, and August 2021 exam sessions.
Measures for regions under enhanced status
Effective immediately, mandatory restrictions on places of worship, businesses and services are in effect in areas under enhanced status. These measures will be in place until further notice.
Places of worship:
• Places of worship are limited to a maximum of one-third normal attendance per service.
• Physical distancing between households and masking are required.
• Faith-based leaders are encour- aged to move services online.
• In-person faith group meetings can continue, but must maintain physical distancing and public health measures must be followed.
Businesses and services:
Starting Nov. 27, business and service restrictions fall under three categories: closed for in-person busi- ness, open with restrictions, and open by appointment only. Impacts by category are available here: alberta.ca/enhanced-public-health- measures.aspx.
These measures will remain in place for three weeks, but will be extended if needed.
Albertans are encouraged to limit in-person visits to retail locations, shop local and use curbside pickup, delivery and online services, where possible.
Local case counts have reached the triple digits as announced by Dr. Deena Hinshaw during the Nov. 23 COVID-19 update livestream.
The number of active COVID-19 cases in Taber and the surrounding municipal district has risen to 106. Hinshaw did share that there was 1,549 new cases of COVID-19 identi- fied within the last 24 hours as Alberta healthcare workers complet- ed 19,500 new tests. Along with this five new deaths were reported.
Alberta has 348 individuals currently hospitalized with 66 in the ICU. With Tuesday’s announcement the total number of active cases in Alberta has risen to 13,349 with the Chinook Regional Hospital, Edith Cavell Care Centre, St. Michael’s Health Centre, Good Samaritan West Highland Centre, House of Cars, Top Hat Adult Entertainment, and two private gatherings in Lethbridge all classified as outbreak locations. Brooks has two outbreak locations being Agecare Sunrise Gardens, and Studio Elle. The final outbreak location in Southern Alberta is a private dayhome in Medicine Hat.
Canada as a whole has had 333,827 cases of COVID-19 with 266,980 indi- viduals recovered.