Alberta restricts indoor dining, fitness and retail; 312 active cases in Fort McMurray

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Premier Jason Kenney said Albertans have a “moral obligation” to protect the most vulnerable people in the province as he announced new COVID-19 restrictions and a streamlined vaccination plan.

During Tuesday’s COVID-19 update, Kenney said the number of people who have been vaccinated is lower than initially projected. He added the province will boost efforts to encourage Albertans to get vaccinated as more people become eligible for immunization against the virus.

Alberta Health is working with healthcare providers, such as family doctors and pharmacists, to make sure everyone has access to the latest and most accurate vaccine information.

Rapid flow vaccination centre at MacDonald Island Park can handle large volumes of people within a short time period. Similar centres are now open in Grande Prairie, Edmonton, Red Deer, Calgary, Lethbridge and Medicine Hat

Alberta Health Services says MacDonald Island Park has 10 vaccination stations, but will be able to double that number as more vaccines arrive in the community. Once that happens, 1,285 people will be able to be vaccinated daily.

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Pharmacies will soon have walk-in booking for anyone eligible for the vaccine.

By late June, 64 per cent of Albertans will have some level of protections either from natural immunity or vaccination. At that point, Kenney said the government will consider lifting most public health restrictions.

“There is no question that vaccination is our ticket out of this,” said Kenney. “We were getting carried up by this wave against our will but we determine how we land.”

Alberta averaged roughly 1,000 new cases daily during the Easter long weekend and the death toll has surpassed 2,000 people. The province has closed indoor dining, limited the number of people allowed in retail spaces and put restrictions on fitness.

Randy Young receives his COVID-19 immunization from registered nurse Shannon McInnis at the AHS COVID-19 immunization clinic at the Suncor Community Leisure Centre curling rink at MacDonald Island Park in Fort McMurray on April 5, 2021. Photo courtesy of Alberta Health Services
Randy Young receives his COVID-19 immunization from registered nurse Shannon McInnis at the AHS COVID-19 immunization clinic at the Suncor Community Leisure Centre curling rink at MacDonald Island Park in Fort McMurray on April 5, 2021. Photo courtesy of Alberta Health Services jpg, FM

Kenney acknowledged the restrictions will be unpopular among people, including within the UCP caucus. UCP MLAs Drew Barnes and Angela Pitt have publicly opposed further public health measures. Kenney argued current measures would have been enough if people followed them, but “COVID fatigue” encouraged non-compliance.

During the past year, Kenney said it has been a struggle balancing strict public health measures and a “safe common ground that can unite most Albertans.”

“It’s no secret I’ve been wrestling with finding this balance and there is no easy or simple formula to do so,” said Kenney. “What causes me to support measures like the ones we’re announcing today is my belief in the sanctity of human life.”

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When asked if his government has made mistakes during the past year, Kenney said it was “stupid” to close local small businesses while letting big box stores remain open during the pandemic’s first wave.

“That was an unfair application,” said Kenney. “The risk associated with retail is not different based on the size of the store or the nature of what it sells.”

Another mistake was restricting access to drug recovery programs, such as heroin replacement programs, and group meetings like Narcotics Anonymous and Alcoholics Anonymous.

“By suspending all of those things, I think that sadly accelerated the overdose crisis in the spring,” said Kenney.

Kenney said he does not regret easing provincial restrictions at the end of the second wave. Allowing businesses to open during these past few weeks has let some businesses earn revenue and keep people employed, he said.

“I think that would be preferable to the foolish consistency of a prolonged closure of a lot of business,” said Kenney. “I wish the virus operated in a simple, predictable straight line, but it doesn’t.”

swilliscraft@postmedia.com

RESTRICTIONS ANNOUNCED APRIL 5:

Retail

  • Retail must cut customer capacity to 15 per cent of fire code occupancy, with a minimum of five customers permitted.
    • Curbside pickup, delivery and online services are allowed.
  • Shopping malls are limited to 15 per cent of fire code occupancy.

Indoor fitness

  • Only one-on-one training with an individual or household is allowed for indoor fitness activities (e.g., fitness in dance studios, training for figure skating on ice, one-on-one lessons).
  • No drop-in activities or unsupervised individual fitness.
  • Group fitness, high or low intensity, is not allowed.
  • Outdoor physical activity is allowed with up to 10 people, provided physical distancing is maintained between households.

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Adult performance activities

  • Adult performance activities are not allowed. This includes dancing, singing, acting, playing a musical instrument and any rehearsal or theatrical performances.

The following mandatory public health measures come into effect at noon on Friday, April 9:

Restaurants, pubs, bars, lounges and cafés

  • Indoor in-person service is no longer allowed
    • Takeout, curbside pickup and delivery services are allowed.
    • Outdoor patio dining is allowed. Tables and dining parties must remain two metres apart or separated by an impermeable barrier preventing droplet transmission.
    • Household members only, or two close contacts of someone who lives alone.
    • Contact information must be collected from one person of the dining party.

The following mandatory public health measures remain unchanged:

Places of worship

  • All places of worship are limited to 15 per cent of fire code occupancy for in-person attendance.
    • Virtual or online services are strongly encouraged.
    • Drive-in services where individuals do not leave their vehicles and follow guidance are allowed and are not subject to capacity restrictions.

Social gatherings

  • Indoor social gatherings are prohibited.
  • Outdoor social gatherings are limited to 10 participants, provided physical distancing and other measures are followed.

Personal and wellness services

  • Personal and wellness services are for appointment only. This includes hair salons, nail salons, massage, tattoos and piercing.
  • Health services, including physiotherapy or acupuncture, social or protective services, shelters for vulnerable persons, emergency services, child care, and not-for-profit community kitchens or charitable kitchens can remain open for in-person attendance.

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Indoor and outdoor children’s sport and performance

  • K-12 schools and post-secondary children’s sport and performance activities, such as physical education classes, can now use off-site facilities to support curriculum-related educational activities.
  • Lessons, practices and conditioning activities, but not games, may occur for indoor team-based minor sports/activities and school athletics.
    • All participants must be 18 years old or younger, excluding coaches or trainers.
    • Maximum of 10 individuals, including all coaches, trainers and participants.
    • Participants must stay physically distanced from each other at all times.

COVID-19 NUMBERS

COVID-19 numbers for Alberta, reported on April 6:                

  • Instructions on how to book a COVID-19 vaccine and who is eligible can be found here.
  • 154,125 people have been infected with the virus. The earliest known COVID-19 case in Alberta was detected in a blood sample collected on Feb. 24. The first case was announced on March 5.
  • Of those cases, 141,315 people have recovered, or 91.6 per cent of all cases.
  • 931 cases were reported in the past 24 hours. There are 10,809 active cases.
  • 328 people are in hospital, with 76 people in intensive care units. Privacy regulations means Alberta Health cannot release how many COVID-19 patients are being treated in local hospitals or health centres.
  • Three new deaths from COVID-19, totalling 2,001.
  • 9,126 people were tested in the past 24 hours.
  • 733,845 vaccine doses have been administered in total; 123,090 people are fully immunized with both doses.

COVID-19 in Fort McMurray:            

  • 14 new active cases in the past 24 hours, bringing known active total to 312. The first case was reported in the city on March 19. 
  • 16 new recoveries in the past 24 hours, bringing total to 1,816.
  • Alberta’s province-wide mask order remains active. 
  • Privacy regulations means Alberta Health cannot release how many COVID-19 patients are being treated in local hospitals or health centres. 
  • Three people have died from COVID-19 in Fort McMurray, with the last death reported on Dec. 24. The first death was reported Sept. 8. 

COVID-19 in rural areas and Wood Buffalo National Park:                

  • Four new COVID-19 case in rural communities reported in the past 24 hours, bringing active total to four cases. One of those cases is in Wood Buffalo National Park.
  • Six new recovery in Wood Buffalo’s rural areas in the past 24 hours, bringing rural total at 155. 
  • AHS has not confirmed which rural communities have active COVID-19 cases, only community leaders have. 
  • Alberta’s province-wide mask order remains active. 
  • Privacy regulations means Alberta Health cannot release how many COVID-19 patients are being treated in local hospitals or health centres. 
  • There have been no deaths from COVID-19 in the RMWB’s rural areas. 

COVID-19 outbreaks at Wood Buffalo’s schools:              

  • Information on school outbreaks can be found online from Alberta Health Services. No school in Wood Buffalo has been ordered to close. 
  • Outbreak: Holy Trinity Catholic High School (10+ cases).
  • Outbreak: Ecole Dickinsfield School (5-9 cases).
  • Alert: Ecole McTavish High School (two to four cases).
  • Alert: Father Patrick Mercredi High School (two to four cases).
  • Alert: St. Anne School (two to four cases).
  • An outbreak is declared when five people linked to a public site, such as a workplace, test positive for COVID-19. At continuing care centres and schools, the number is two. 
  • An outbreak is over when no new COVID-19 cases have been reported after 30 days. 

COVID-19 outbreaks at Wood Buffalo’s workplaces:                 

  • Information on workplace outbreaks can be found online from Alberta Health Services
  • Canadian Natural’s Albian site.
  • Canadian Natural’s Horizon site.
  • Canadian Natural’s Jackfish site.
  • Children First Eagle Ridge Nest 
  • Imperial Oil’s Kearl Lake site. 
  • Suncor’s base plant. 
  • Suncor’s Firebag Village. 
  • Suncor’s MacKay River site.
  • Syncrude’s Mildred Lake site. 
  • Wheaton-Penny Childcare Centre.
  • An outbreak is declared when five people linked to a public site, such as a workplace, test positive for COVID-19. At continuing care centres and schools, the number is two. 
  • An outbreak is over when no new COVID-19 cases have been reported after 30 days. 

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