As case counts surge throughout the province, the premier has officially announced increased COVID-19 restrictions in Alberta as of Tuesday, November 24.
The announcement was long-awaited and leading up to the conference on Tuesday afternoon, residents were flooding the internet with pleas for Jason Kenney to do something about the worsening situation.
The premier addressed the public and promptly declared a state of public health emergency in Alberta for the second time since the beginning of the pandemic. He then added restrictions on indoor social gatherings, business operations, schooling, and more.
The conference was heavy on information and filled with significant changes. Because the information is a whole lot to sift through and tons of questions have arisen since the initial announcement, we've dug deep to answer some of your most burning questions below.
How long will the new restrictions last?
As we settle into what the present situation looks like in Alberta, it's helpful to understand just how long we're committing to the current restrictions.
In the conference, Jason Kenney explained that the enhanced measures will be in place for three weeks and will be re-evaluated in mid-December.
Who can I see and in what settings?
A large focus of the announcement was on new protocols for social gatherings. The new mandates have banned indoor social gatherings across the entire province and reduced outdoor gatherings to a 10 person maximum with proper distancing.
You can only hang out indoors with your immediate household members. Though, if you live alone, you can pick two non-household contacts to see and no one else until the restriction is lifted.
Work and support group meetings don't fall under the umbrella of social gatherings, though attendance should be limited and public health measures must be followed.
As for outside, you can get together in groups of 10 but you need to keep your distance and follow safety measures. Also, the gatherings aren't allowed to have any indoor components. For example, if you're at a backyard gathering, people cannot go in and out of the house.
Festivals and events have also been banned.
So, you better get used to seeing whoever you live with or your two adopted roomies for the next three weeks. Or, you better get used to hanging out in the cold.
Are restaurants and bars still open?
Restaurants, bars, and pubs will remain open but with new restrictions.
If you want to dine in, you can only do so with your immediate household and only up to a maximum of six people. Those who live alone can dine with their chosen two people.
There is to be no movement between tables and only seated eating is allowed, so there will be no games like pool or darts.
The establishments will now have to cut off liquor sales at 10 p.m. and in-person dining at 11 p.m. The province is highly recommending takeout services as an alternative at this time.
What does this mean for travel in and out of the province?
As for travel, the rules vary depending on where you're coming from and where you're going. If you're departing from Alberta to travel internationally, you'll need to comply with local travel measures whenever you are going.
If you're coming to Alberta from another country, you need to quarantine for 14 days, monitor for symptoms, and get tested if you get symptoms.
If you're coming from another Canadian province, you simply need to follow local health orders. At present, there are no travel bans for Canadian travellers. If you're leaving Alberta, you'll need to check out the mandates in the place you're going to.
As for travel within the province, you need to follow protocols, maintain physical distance, and wear a mask where mandated.
When do I have to wear a mask?
Mandatory masking is now a thing in the Calgary zone and the Edmonton zone for all indoor workplaces.
While there is no provincial mask bylaw, many municipalities have mandated marks in all indoor public spaces including the city of Calgary and the city of Edmonton. So, it's best to check in with your local government's mandates.
How does this impact schools, including post-secondary?
As of now, there are no additional measures for post-secondary studies, though the province says this is up to the individual institutions.
The announcement did include changes to grade school health measures including the ending of in-person classes for grades seven to 12 until January 11.
Younger students will remain in class but will also not return to school until January 11.
What are some of the other changes?
Many businesses such as retail and grocery stores have been reduced to 25% of their fire code occupancy. This is the same for movie theatres, museums, etc.
As for fitness, there will be no more group fitness activities as of Friday, November 27.
Other businesses like hair salons, massage, one-on-one personal training, and the like can remain open but by appointment only.