by Morinville News Staff
Aggressive public health measures, including additional limits to mass gatherings, are being implemented provincewide to limit the spread of COVID-19 and protect Albertans.
The latest provincial updates verbatim are as follows:
Government will declare a state of public health emergency.
23 additional cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in Alberta, bringing the total number of cases in the province to 97. Cases have now been identified in all zones across the province.
70 cases in the Calgary zone, 20 cases in the Edmonton zone, three cases in the Central zone, three cases in the South zone, and one case in the North zone.
Mass gatherings are now limited to no more than 50 attendees. This includes worship gatherings and family events such as weddings. Grocery stores, shopping centres, health-care facilities, airports, and other essential services are not included.
To limit the amount of time Albertans are spending in large crowds and crowded spaces, all Albertans are prohibited from attending public recreational facilities and private entertainment facilities, including gyms, swimming pools, arenas, science centres, museums, art galleries, community centres, libraries, children’s play centres, casinos, racing entertainment centres, and bingo halls.
Sit-down restaurants, cafés, coffee shops, food courts and other food-serving facilities, including those with a minors-allowed liquor license, are limited to 50 per cent capacity to a maximum of 50 people. Take-out, delivery or drive-through service is permitted.
Licensed restaurants and bars can now sell liquor without selling food as part of their take-out – with the exception of drive-thru windows – and delivery services to help keep businesses open, staff employed and additional options for Albertans who are self-isolating.
Changes to the Employment Standards Code have been made to provide job protection for Albertans.
Albertans are prohibited from attending buffet-style restaurants. At this time, not-for-profit community kitchens, soup kitchens and religious kitchens are exempt, but sanitization practices are expected to be in place and support will be in place for this practice.
Food services in work camps are also exempt, but in addition to appropriate sanitization practices, arrangements should be made to provide for workers if they are self-isolated.
$60 million is being provided to help social services organizations respond to critical front-line services.
Until further notice, all Albertans are restricted from attending bars and nightclubs, where minors are prohibited by law.
Ski hills across the province are strongly encouraged to close by the end of day March 17, to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Effective March 18, all passenger ropeways, like gondolas and chairlifts, will be closed until further notice under the Safety Codes Act.
All provincial historic sites and the Provincial Archives will be closing March 17. Information regarding facility bookings and passes will be available on the facilities’ websites.
Upcoming expiry dates for Alberta drivers’ licences, vehicle registrations, other permits and certificates are being extended until May 15.
Effective immediately, the Seniors Information Office, located on Jasper Avenue in Edmonton, will be closed to protect the health of clients and staff. Seniors in need of information on seniors financial assistance programs should contact Alberta Supports at 1-877-644-9992.
Alberta Court of Appeal is limiting attendance to necessary parties. Matters continue either electronically or with social distancing directives in effect.
In-person post-secondary classes remain cancelled as institutions move to alternate delivery formats. Campuses remain open.
Access to justice services
The Office of the Public Guardian and Trustee will be suspending in-person visits with clients or service providers.
Alternative arrangements will include phone, email, Skype, texting and videoconferencing. Contact information can be found at https://www.alberta.ca/contact-office-public-guardian-trustee.aspx.
Alberta Court of Appeal: https://albertacourts.ca/ca/publications/announcements/notice—covid-19
Full and part-time employees can access 14 days of job-protected leave for the purpose of self-isolation related to COVID-19, retroactive to March 5.
The leave does not apply to self-employed individuals or contractors.
The requirement to have worked for an employer for 90 days to access COVID-19 specific leave is no longer required.
Employees self-isolating due to COVID-19 do not require a medical note to access leave.
Indigenous community response
First Nations are encouraged to develop community response plans with Indigenous Services Canada and their Directors of Emergency Management and First Nations Field Officer. Indigenous Services Canada can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Metis Settlements are encouraged to develop response plans with their Directors of Emergency Management and Field Officer.
Social services organizations
Funding support is being provided through Family and Community Support Services for adult homeless shelters, women’s emergency shelters and civil society organizations to help keep front-line critical services operating and provide support for vulnerable populations.
Information for travellers
Travel outside the country is strongly discouraged. Given the rapid global spread of the virus, it is no longer possible to assess health risks for the duration of the trip.
Any traveller returning from outside of the country should self-isolate for 14 days, even if they are feeling well, and monitor for symptoms.
Any traveller who has returned before March 12 should closely monitor themselves for symptoms. If they experience symptoms, they should self-isolate immediately and call Health Link 811 for follow-up assessment and testing.
The Alberta government is working with Travel Alberta on a strategy to inform Canadians returning from travel outside the province about the need to self-isolate, and how to access medical care, if needed.
COVID-19-related information is now being provided for returning passengers at the international airports in both Edmonton and Calgary. This information has also been shared with the Fort McMurray International Airport and several airlines.