Mandatory social gathering limits measure for Edmonton and Calgary after 1440 case weekend

New mandated measures for Edmonton and Calgary were put in place Monday after a weekend of increased COVID-19 cases and increased strain on hospitals. The weekend saw another 1440 cases in Alberta with 364 Friday, 572 Saturday, and 504 Sunday. Currently, there are 118 in hospital and 16 in intensive care. The weekend saw another seven deaths.

“We have now crossed a tipping point and are losing the balance we are seeking,” said Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Deena Hinshaw. “We are in a crucial phrase right now and need to take steps to reduce growth.”

New mandatory measures include a 15-person limit on all social gatherings in the City of Edmonton and City of Calgary. The measure applies to gatherings, including dinner parties, wedding and funeral receptions, banquets and other social gatherings. The mandatory restriction does not change measures for structured events, including dining in restaurants, theatres, worship services or wedding and funeral ceremonies. The mandatory measure is in place for one month but could be removed if cases drop.

Hinshaw told reporters Monday one-third of the last two weeks’ outbreaks have been due to birthday parties, house warmings and other social gatherings. Despite mandating a 15-person limit, the CMO is quick to point out social groups under 15 could still lead to spread. A $1000 fine could be levied for contraventions.

Hinshaw said the mandate measure will remain in effect for one month but could end before if numbers drop.

Voluntary public health measures remain in place for the entire Edmonton Zone and are recommended for anyone living in or visiting the City of Calgary. These include:

    • Wear non-medical masks in all indoor work settings, except when alone in workspaces such as offices or cubicles where you can be safely distanced from others or an appropriate barrier is in place.
    • Limit each individual to no more than three cohorts (a core/household cohort, a school cohort, and one additional sport, social or other cohort). Young children who attend child care may be part of four cohorts, as child care cohorts have not been seen to be a high-risk context for spread.

“We strongly recommend non-medical masks in all work settings, except in work cubicles,” Hinshaw said, adding people should reduce close contacts, connections and networks, limiting to three cohorts.

Hinshaw said the voluntary rather than mandatory measures remain because the province believes Albertans want to do the right thing.

“We do not need a rule or order to do the right thing, or to make the smart choice. The voluntary measures have demonstrated that,” Hinshaw said. “However, the rate of growth of these new cases, and the hospitalizations, means we have to step up our efforts even further with this new temporary restriction as well. Our best hope to avoid needing any further restrictions and to keep businesses recovering and the health system readily available is for all of us to go the extra mile.”

Locally, Morinville added another seven cases over the weekend, rising to 14 active cases or 123.75 per 100,000 of population. Sturgeon County has 21 active cases or 75.1 per 100,000 of population, an increase of eight from Friday’s 13 active cases. St. Albert currently has 124 active cases or 179.9 per 100,000.