Alberta bans dining-in, toughens other health measures

By: Thomas I. Likness
EBC News Service

(Eagle News) — As Covid-19 variants continue to spread like wildfire through the Alberta population, Premier Jason Kenney announced Tuesday the province is taking a step back in its reopening strategy.

“This is not an easy announcement to make or a step we are in any way taking lightly,” said Kenney. “Cases have continued to rise sharply over the last week, averaging almost 1,000 new cases a day over the long weekend.”

The following restrictions take effect Wednesday:

  • Retail stores and shopping malls are limited to 15% capacity.
  • Entertainment and recreation facilities, as well as libraries, must close.
  • Gyms are allowed to do only one-on-one training on an appointment-only basis.

Hardest hit are restaurants.

Starting Friday, indoor dining is not permitted, although restaurants can still offer patio dining and takeout.

Kenney says the restrictions will remain in effect until further notice.

“These measures will buy us some time for additional Covid-19 vaccines to arrive and take effect so we can once again start safely easing restrictions as quickly as possible,” he said.

Healthcare in jeopardy

Kenney says if the present trend continues unabated, more than 1,000 Albertans will be in hospital by the end of the month and daily case numbers will top 2,000.

“To be blunt, this wave is here,” said Kenney. “These trends would threaten the maximum capacity of our healthcare system.”

Although the province’s hospitals could accommodate up to 2,400 Covid-19 patients, there would be a price to pay. All non-urgent surgery would be cancelled along with hundreds of hospital-based medical procedures.

Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw says she’s concerned about the recent increase in Covid-19 cases in Alberta.

“All Albertans must take these additional measures very seriously; this virus is highly contagious,” said Hinshaw. “Only by working together can we protect each other, reduce the spread and protect our health system.”
(Eagle News Service)