Officials in Alberta are working hard to ensure everyone follows the public health rules surrounding COVID-19. Up until recently, it was all based on an honour system. But now there’s a hotline where concerned members of the community can call in and basically tell on each other for health violations. This Alberta Health Services (AHS) complaint hotline has been blowing up, and so far some 4,000 complaints have been filed.
AHS has told Global News that nearly 4,000 complaints have been filed about alleged infractions against public health orders. These orders were put in place to help slow the spread of COVID-19.
Many of the complaints are against businesses, while others are about individuals not following self-isolation rules.
The first complaint came in on January 27. As of March 30, the hotline received 3,930 complaints.
So far, 1,876 of the nearly 4,000 complaints have come through AHS’s online portal, with the remainder submitted by email or phone.
CBC News spoke with AHS spokesperson Kerry Williamson and confirmed that most of the complaints had to do with facilities like hair salons and clothing stores not closing or failing to follow the rules of social distancing.
As a result, seven closure orders have been issued to Albertan businesses. Six of them went to local gyms and one to a massage business.
One of the gyms is in Edmonton and the other five are in Calgary.
The following businesses were issued orders to close:
- Gold’s Gym on Country Hills Boulevard NE in Calgary on March 20
- Gold’s Gym on 36 Street NE in Calgary on March 20
- High Definition Fitness in Edmonton on March 26
- Koko FitClub North in Calgary on March 27
- Anytime Fitness Westmount in Edmonton on March 27
- Kingsland Oriental Medical Massage Ltd. in Calgary on March 30
- Ascension Fitness in Calgary on March 30
Concerns are also being raised about other people, and around 440 reports have been submitted about individuals not self-isolating when they should be.
The AHS online portal explains that as of March 25, there are a number of public rules put in place, including isolating for 14 days after returning from travel or exposure to COVID-19, isolating if you experience symptoms, and limiting access to nursing homes.
When a violation claim is submitted online, it can take up to five business days to receive a response.
Once a claim is submitted, an investigation is conducted. Each case is different but a spokesperson told CBC that if someone refuses to isolate, law enforcement will follow up.
Alberta is working to put fines in place which, according to Jason Kenney, will be $1,000 per occurrence. Fines of up to $500,000 could be issued, depending on the offence.
With Alberta just confirming the province's youngest COVID-19 death, officials in the community are taking this matter seriously. A mayor in Alberta even wrote a super salty letter calling people “pinheads” for not social distancing.
The AHS hotline and online portal were put in place to help people keep their communities safe during unprecedented times. It seems Albertans aren't shy about spilling the beans.