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Alberta restricts bar hours, indoor fitness classes amid rising COVID-19 cases

Additional restrictions in place for communities under enhanced watch, including St. Albert
dr deena hinshaw
Alberta Chief Medical Officer of Health Deena Hinshaw. CHRIS SCHWARZ/Government of Alberta

A stressed health care system and worsening spread of COVID-19 are behind new targeted health measures in Alberta.

Effective tomorrow, Nov. 13, all restaurants, bars and lounges in areas under enhanced COVID-19 status will no longer be allowed to serve liquor at 10 p.m. and must close by 11 p.m., announced Premier Jason Kenney on Thursday. That restriction will remain in place for about two weeks until Nov. 27. 

"We are at a dangerous juncture in our province," Kenney said. The premier went into isolation again today after learning he had come into close contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19.

"We have to bend the curve back down to protect our healthcare system, to protect vulnerable Albertans, to keep schools open and to avoid further damage to people's livelihoods and the economy at a time of great adversity."

Another two-week ban has been placed on all indoor group fitness classes, team sport activities and group performance activities in Edmonton and surrounding areas, which includes St. Albert. This ban is also in place for Calgary and surrounding areas, Grande Prairie, Fort McMurray, Red Deer and Lethbridge. 

This does not include outdoor or individual sports and exercise, training or equipment use. Gyms are not required to close. Group performances, such as singing, dancing and theatre must also stop. This does not apply to professional venues.

All regions under enhanced status must take additional measures. That’s a reference to communities that have a rate of over 50 active cases per 100,000 people. St. Albert is currently under this classification. The following is in place until further notice: 

  • Maximum attendance of 50 at wedding or funeral ceremonies
  • It is recommended all faith-based activities limit attendance to one-third capacity per service
  • Residents should not hold social gatherings within their homes and should not plan social gatherings outside their community
  • It is recommended employers in office settings implement measures to reduce the number of employees in the workplace at one time. This may include rotating schedules or letting staff work remotely.

Kenney said if these measures are not successful and case numbers keep rising, more restrictive measures will be put in place. Forty per cent of transmission in the province can be linked to home and social gatherings, he said. 

"If we continue to see large private parties, we may have to consider enforcement action," Kenney said.

In St. Albert, there are 99 active cases of COVID-19 as of Nov. 12. 

Nineteen people have recovered from COVID-19 since Tuesday, and 18 more people have tested positive. The city has now had 409 people test positive since the start of the pandemic, with 307 having recovered. Three people have died, according to the province’s data map. However, according to Alberta Health, four deaths are linked to the outbreak at the St. Albert Retirement Residence, though only one of those is reflected on the province's website. 

Over the last 24 hours, 860 new cases of COVID-19 have been identified in Alberta, bringing the total number of active cases to 8,305. Ten more people have died from the virus, bringing the total number of people who have died in Alberta from COVID-19 to 393. 

"This is yet another stark reminder of the deadly potential of this virus and why we must take steps to reduce community transmission," said Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta's chief medical officer of health. 

There are 225 people in hospital, including 51 in intensive care. The province has crossed the threshold of five per cent hospitalization rate in the last two weeks, and is currently sitting at seven per cent average daily growth in rural zones, Hinshaw said. This week, the province also hit a trigger of more than 50 per cent of COVID-19 intensive care unit capacity and currently sits at 73 per cent. 

There are active alerts or outbreaks in 307 schools – about 13 per cent of all schools in the province. This includes 62 schools on the watch list.

Brittany Gervais

About the Author: Brittany Gervais

Brittany Gervais joined the St. Albert Gazette in 2020. She writes about city hall, business, general news and features.
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