By Jaxon McGinn
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Sunny South News
An estimated 8,250 new cases of COVID-19 were reported in Alberta from December 23-27. The province’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw provided preliminary estimates for the Christmas break. The previous provincial update was last Thursday, December 23. In large Alberta public settings, Premier Jason Kenney is announcing new “targeted” COVID-19 measures.
Health Minister Jason Copping says, starting at midnight on Christmas Eve, venues with at least a 1,000 person capacity will be limited to half capacity, such as NHL games.
The new mandatory measures took effect on December 24. Many of the restrictions include:
For venues in the Restrictions Exemption Program – 50 per cent capacity limit at venues that seat more than 1,000 people. For venues with a capacity of between 500 and 1,000 occupants, 500 is the limit.
There is no food or drink consumption in seated audience settings or during intermissions in the venues mentioned above.
There is no impact on venues under 500.
Maximum table capacity of 10 people in restaurants, pubs, and bars. No mingling between tables.
There are no interactive activities at restaurants, pubs, and bars (e.g., dancing, darts, and billiards).
Restaurants, pubs, and bars must stop liquor service at 11 pm. And close at 12:30 am.
As of Friday, December 31, approximately 349 Albertans are in the hospital, including 57 in the intensive care unit(ICU). In Tuesday’s update, Dr. Hinshaw said the province has identified about 15,000 active infections but noted that the figure does not consider people who have tested positive on rapid tests.
However, the Premier noted that the “situation we are in today is very challenging,” adding that early data indicates the severity of outcomes may be less for Omicron, but the variant is still very transmissible. He’s urging all Albertans to limit their social contacts and get immunized.
Copping says the province needs to avoid these “super-spreader events.”
“These new measures, along with more boosters and rapid test availability, will help slow the spread of COVID-19. These efforts are critical as work continues to prepare our healthcare system for potential challenges from the Omicron variant. I know Albertans are tired of the pandemic, but we need to take what we have learned from previous waves and urgently apply it to our current situation.”
The provincial release says additional resources are being given to Albertans, such as at-home rapid test kits.
“In addition to ongoing orders for rapid tests from the Government of Canada, Alberta’s government will directly purchase up to 10 million rapid tests for anticipated delivery in January, allowing Albertans to secure immediate supplies. More than 2.5 million rapid tests, or 500,000 rapid test kits, have already been made available to Albertans in the broad rollout that began on December 17. Additional supplies have been received from the federal government and shipped to participating AHS and pharmacy locations. If you have not already picked up your kit, visit alberta.ca/CovidRapidTests to find the place nearest you with available stock, as many areas still have supplies available.”
Booster shots are also being given to Albertans aged 18 and over.
For further information, you can visit the Alberta government website at alberta.ca
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