by Stephen Dafoe
Edmonton, Calgary and other provincial hotspots will get some tighter COVID-19 restrictions after the province recorded more than 2,000 new active cases Thursday, its highest number to date. The targeted restrictions apply to municipalities or regions where there are at least 350 cases per 100,000 people and 250 currently active cases.
The new measures announced by Premier Jason Kenney at a later-than-usual daily update Thursday affect junior and senior high schools, and sports and fitness activities in the targeted communities. Measures remain in place for a minimum of two weeks for any community or area that reaches this trigger. After 14 days, the enhanced measures will be lifted once the municipality falls back below the threshold.
“We have no choice but to implement these targeted measures to slow growth and bend the curve and protect our health system over the next few weeks,” Kenney said in a media release Thursday night. “These measures are layered on top of Alberta’s robust public health restrictions and will buy a little more time for our vaccination program to protect more Albertans and win the race against the variants. We must respond with a firm stand against COVID-19 now so that we can enjoy a great Alberta summer.”
Below are the expanded health measures.
Expanded public health measures
The following mandatory public health measures will come into effect for hot spot municipalities and regions:
Schools – Starting May 3
- While schools remain a safe place and are not a main driver of community spread, in order to limit in-person interactions, all junior and senior high school students (Grades 7 and above) will shift to online learning.
- K-6 students will continue in-classroom learning unless otherwise approved by Alberta Education to shift to online-learning.
Indoor fitness – effective April 30
- All indoor fitness activities are prohibited. This includes:
- all group physical activities, such as team sports, fitness classes and training sessions
- all one-on-one lessons and training activities
- all practices, training and games
- Outdoor fitness activities may continue under provincewide restrictions currently in place, including individual or household one-on-one training with a trainer.
Indoor sport and recreation – effective April 30
- All youth and adult indoor group physical activities, including team sports and one-on-one training sessions, are prohibited.
- Outdoor sport and recreation activities may continue under provincewide restrictions currently in place:
- Outdoor team sports where two-metre distancing cannot be maintained at all times (such as basketball, volleyball, soccer, football, slo-pitch and road hockey) remain prohibited.
- Outdoor fitness training is allowed, as are physically distanced group fitness classes with a maximum of 10 participants.
- Outdoor group physical activity with different households must be limited to 10 people or fewer and two-metre distancing must be maintained at all times.
- All indoor recreation facilities must close. Outdoor recreation amenities can be open to public access unless specifically closed by public health order.
The government will implement a curfew where case rates are significantly high, specifically case rates above 1,000 per 100,000, and if a municipality or region requests it. Details will be announced prior to any curfew being implemented.
All other current public health restrictions, including masking, physical distancing, prohibitions on social gatherings and working from home requirements remain in place province-wide.
Alberta’s government is responding to the COVID-19 pandemic by protecting lives and livelihoods with precise measures to bend the curve, sustain small businesses and protect Alberta’s healthcare system.
Other affected communities in addition to Edmonton and Calgary include Fort McMurray, City of Red Deer, City of Grande Prairie, City of Airdrie, Strathcona County, and the City of Lethbridge.