Those who are vaccinated and those who are not are free to mingle for the holidays, according to the province’s new rules announced Wednesday. Although indoor social gatherings remain limited to 10 people 18 and over, limits on the number of households were removed as well as the distinction between vaccinated and unvaccinated attendees.
“We are closely monitoring developments around the Omicron variant and are taking immediate action to protect Albertans and slow the spread in our province,” Premier Jason Kenney said Wednesday. “We strongly encourage Albertans to do their part to address the threat of Omicron by getting a booster dose, using rapid tests when appropriate and following Alberta’s public health guidelines.”
NDP Leader Rachel Notley was quick to condemn the decision.
“Today, Albertans may be feeling some whiplash. The Premier says unvaccinated Albertans can host at-home gatherings with multiple households while at the same time the Chief Medical Officer says there is a significant risk of a fifth wave that would once again collapse the health care system. This just doesn’t add up,” Notley said,” adding “Albertans are right to wonder if Jason Kenney is rolling the dice again.”
Province expanding testing and booster shots
The province is expanding its rapid testing program to allow all Albertans to have access to free rapid tests. Select Alberta Health Services sites and select pharmacies will make available 500,000 test kits of five individual tests starting Dec. 17.
As of Wednesday, Albertans aged 50 and older and all healthcare workers who had their second dose six months ago or longer can book a third dose of an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine.
Eligible individuals can book appointments for third doses online with participating pharmacies or AHS by using the Alberta vaccine booking system. Albertans can also call 811, participating pharmacies or participating physicians’ offices.
Albertans who were previously eligible for third doses continue to be able to book their appointments. For information on eligibility, visit alberta.ca/vaccine.