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Everything you need to know about COVID-19 in Alberta on Tuesday, Dec. 22

Alberta will make a one-time exemption to its gathering rules for people who live alone, allowing them to visit another household once between Dec. 23 and 28.

One-time exemption to gathering rules allows singles to visit another household for the holidays

Transport Canada says the majority of tickets and warning letters issued for refusing to wear a mask on a flight involves Alberta. (David J. Phillip/The Associated Press)

The latest:

  • Alberta will make a one-time exemption to its social gathering rules for people who live alone, allowing them to visit another household once between Dec. 23 and 28. A household must host a maximum of only two people who live alone. 
  • The province is also relaxing its rules on massage therapy, which will now be allowed if someone has a prescription and if precautionary measures are in place. 
  • Another 25,350 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine have arrived in Alberta. More than 3,000 health-care workers in Calgary and Edmonton have received their first dose. These new doses will reach additional communities. 
  • Alberta reported 11 more COVID-19 deaths and 1,021 new cases on Tuesday, with a positivity rate of 7.2 per cent, up slightly from the previous day's 6.8 per cent. Only 14,304 tests were done in the previous 24 hours — in recent days, between 18,000 and 21,000 tests have usually been completed daily.
  • That brings the total number of active cases in the province to 18,311, down from 19,165 the previous day.
  • The active case total peaked at 21,138 on Dec. 13, the day after a raft of new provincial restrictions went into effect.
  • But while the daily case tally has slightly declined, hospitalizations have continued to increase, with 802 people in hospital, including152 in ICU. A total of 871 people have died. 
  • Alberta leads the country in terms of the number of passengers hit with fines or warning letters for refusing to wear a mask on board a flight, CBC reported Tuesday.
  • Anyone who has been in the United Kingdom in the past 14 days should get tested for COVID-19, whether they're symptomatic or not in view of the new, potentially more contagious strain of the coronavirus spreading in that country, the Alberta government said Monday. The province also said travellers from the UK who are participating in Alberta's border pilot rapid-test program must immediately quarantine, whether they've had a negative test or not.
  • A Calgary judge on Monday rejected an emergency application seeking a stay of Alberta's COVID-19 public health restrictions, including bans on gatherings and mandatory masks. A Calgary law firm and the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms appeared in court Monday morning to make an application for an emergency injunction staying Alberta's public health restrictions alleging they violate constitutionally guaranteed rights. 
  • A pastor in Edmonton was handed a fine of $1,200 on Sunday for violation of health orders at the GraceLife Church.
  • Calgary police Chief Mark Neufeld warned Monday there's a time and place to debate the legitimacy of laws and punishments, but it's not when police are enforcing them. Provincial health orders bar outside gatherings. Those in violation can be hit with tickets that start at $1,000. Calgary's mask bylaw carries fines starting at $100.
  • Neufeld was alluding to an incident caught on video last Thursday that showed officers arresting a 21-year-old man at an outdoor skating rink in Calgary for allegedly violating a public health order and resisting arrest. There were also two arrests at an anti-mask, anti-restrictions protest in front of Calgary City Hall. 
  • Paramedics are asking the government to expedite their access to the COVID-19 vaccine, as it's not clear when they will be immunized.  which the government plans to administer to  29,000 health-care workers by the end of December and give to long-term care residents, staff who work in long-term care and designated supportive living centres, health-care workers in the highest risk areas of hospitals and people over the age of 75 in the first quarter of 2021.
  • Alberta Health Services has placed the Peter Lougheed Centre's emergency department under COVID-19 outbreak status after 12 staff members tested positive.
  • A field hospital in Edmonton could open by mid-January.
  • Operators of Calgary's largest homeless shelters are working hard to try and make up for a lack of volunteers this holiday season. 

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Duration 1:55
Alberta's chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw says that the new vaccination against COVID-19 is safe and it works.

What you need to know today in Alberta

On Tuesday, Alberta Premier Jason Kenney announced there will be a one-time exemption to the province's gathering restrictions, allowing those who live alone to visit another household once between Dec. 23-28. 

A household must only host a maximum of two people who live alone, not including minors.

The province also relaxed another rule — massage therapy will now be allowed for those who have a prescription, with precautions in place. 

Alberta reported 11 more COVID-19 deaths and 1,021 new cases on Tuesday, with a positivity rate of 7.2 per cent, up slightly from the previous day's 6.8 per cent. That brings the total number of active cases in the province to 18,311, down from 19,165 the previous day.

Hospitalizations have continued to increase, with 802 people in hospital, including152 in ICU. A total of 871 people have died. 

Kenney asked those who are thinking of breaking the rules over the holidays to consider the possible impact on the lives of others. 

"This is not a theory. This is not a model. This is not a political preference. It is a simple, hard, numerical reality of the pressure on the health-care system, which without these kinds of difficult restrictions and measures would, within a matter of weeks, undoubtedly overwhelm Alberta's health-care system," he said. 

"So we ask for people's understanding at this particular time of year as they gather in smaller household groups to please do everything you can to avoid turning Christmas into a super-spreader event that could have [a] devastating impact on the lives and health of thousands of your fellow Albertans."

The provincewide R-value, or number of people infected by each person with the virus, was 0.92. 


A Calgary judge has rejected an emergency application seeking a stay of Alberta's COVID-19 public health restrictions, including bans on gatherings and mandatory masks.

Lawyers for the group of plaintiffs — including two southern Alberta churches and a Calgary gym owner — had argued the province's COVID-19 restrictions violate their constitutional rights.

In the application, Heights Baptist Church in Medicine Hat and Northside Baptist Church in Calgary, along with three individuals, argued that a number of their constitutional rights have been violated, including limiting peoples' ability to gather for both social and religious reasons, along with travelling and conducting business or expressing themselves. 

The Justice Centre accuses the government of "cancelling Christmas" and suggests COVID-19 has not created an emergency beyond the normal scope of illness and death in the province.

Justice Anne Kirker, in a decision issued Monday afternoon, said the risk of transmission of COVID-19 is real. She said she did not feel the public interest in granting the stay outweighed the public interest in maintaining the restrictions until the full hearing can take place. 


Chief Mark Neufeld of the Calgary Police Service said he used to think systemic racism was not a problem in his force. Today, he is not so sure. (Mike Symington/CBC)

Calgary's police chief says there's a time and place to debate the legitimacy of laws and punishments, but not when police are enforcing them. 

"I want to be crystal clear. We do not live in a society where a person can pick and choose the laws they follow," Chief Mark Neufeld said Monday.

"Laws become unenforceable if people are free to simply walk away from officers without identifying themselves. There is a time and a place to debate laws and to argue your innocence and that is in the courts. It is not at the roadside. It is not in the park and it is not on the ice."

Neufeld was alluding to an incident caught on video last Thursday that showed officers arresting a 21-year-old man at an outdoor skating rink for allegedly violating a public health order and resisting arrest. 

There were also two arrests at an anti-mask, anti-restrictions protest in front of City Hall. 

Provincial health orders bar outside gatherings. Those in violation can be hit with tickets that start at $1,000. Calgary's mask bylaw carries fines starting at $100.


Anyone who has been in the United Kingdom in the past 14 days should get tested for COVID-19, whether they're symptomatic or not, the Alberta government said Monday.

The announcement comes after Ottawa joined several European nations by halting flights from the U.K. on Sunday in an effort to prevent a new, potentially more contagious strain of the coronavirus from spreading to this country.

The province also said travellers from the UK who are participating in Alberta's border pilot rapid-test program must immediately quarantine, whether they've had a negative test or not.

Travellers will be contacted directly by Alberta Health Services to book a test. 


Alberta recently started reporting pre-existing conditions linked to COVID-19 deaths — but the bullet points on each day's list of deaths don't tell the whole story, experts caution.

In November, the province began to announce whether or not a patient who died of COVID-19 also had any comorbidities, which are pre-existing conditions occurring alongside COVID-19. 

Dr. Cynthia Carr, an epidemiologist and founder of EPI Research Inc., says studying comorbidities can contribute to a greater understanding of how conditions impact each other, but that discussing the concept without nuance can lead to a misunderstanding or dismissive attitudes to COVID-19's dangers — something those living with pre-existing conditions say contributes to their fear and anxiety. 

A nurse gives the first COVID-19 vaccine in Edmonton, to Sahra Kaahiye in Edmonton on Tuesday, December 15, 2020. (Jason Franson/The Canadian Press)

"I think it's really important for people to understand in real life what that means when we talk about vulnerable populations by age group and [comorbidity] … it shows how impactful those health conditions are."


Transport Canada has handed out dozens of tickets and warning letters to passengers who refuse to wear masks on flights. Most of those have involved Alberta. 

A review of Transport Canada data by CBC News reveals that WestJet passengers have been the hardest hit — with 50 of the 72 incidents, or nearly 70 per cent, involving passengers on the Calgary-based airline.

WestJet passengers were also issued eight of the nine fines levied, with tickets ranging from $100 to as high as $2,000.

Those who receive warning letters could be handed a bigger fine if they violate the rules a second time. Transport Canada says the fine could be as high as $5,000.

Sweeping new restrictions intended to curb the surge of COVID-19 in the province took affect on Dec. 13. They will remain in place at least for four weeks — through Christmas and New Year's. A full list of the tighter measures is available on the province's website.


Click on the map below to zoom in or out on specific local geographic areas in Alberta and find out more about COVID-19 there:

Here is the regional breakdown of active cases reported on Tuesday:

  • Calgary zone: 6,555, down from 6,748 reported on Monday (29,156 recovered).
  • Edmonton zone: 8,644, down from 9,147 (30,606 recovered).
  • North zone: 1,121, down from 1,137 (4,976 recovered).
  • South zone: 412, down from 461 (4,346 recovered). 
  • Central zone: 1,462, down from 1,551 (4,068 recovered).
  • Unknown: 117, down from 121 (146 recovered).
  • Find out which neighbourhoods or communities have the most cases, how hard people of different ages have been hit, the ages of people in hospital, how Alberta compares to other provinces and more in: Here are the latest COVID-19 statistics for Alberta — and what they mean

What you need to know today in Canada:

As of 10:20 a.m. ET on Tuesday, Canada's COVID-19 case count stood at 517,516, with 77,642 of those cases considered active. A CBC News tally of deaths stood at 14,353.

All of Ontario will move into a lockdown on Boxing Day in a bid to curb climbing COVID-19 case numbers and spare hospitals and their intensive care units from being inundated in January, Premier Doug Ford said Monday.

The lockdown will begin at 12:01 a.m. on Dec. 26 and remain in place until at least Jan. 23, 2021 in the 27 public health units that comprise southern Ontario. In the seven public health units in Ontario's north, where daily case numbers have been significantly lower, the lockdown is set to expire on Jan. 9, 2021.

In British Columbia, health officials on Monday reported 41 additional deaths over a period of three days and 1,667 new cases. Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said that while case numbers seem to be levelling, they are still too high.

"We have to remember that people getting sick today were in contact with others days ago, and as much as two weeks ago."

Quebec saw 2,108 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday with hospitalizations up to 1,048, including 146 people in intensive care units. Manitoba reported four deaths and 167 new cases, the lowest numbers in more than a month, while Saskatchewan also announced four new COVID-19-related deaths and 206 new cases.

In Atlantic Canada, new measures meant to prevent any possible surge of COVID-19 over the holiday period have started across Nova Scotia, which announced two new cases on Monday. Newfoundland and Labrador reported no new cases and announced that the province's active caseload has dipped to 28.

In Nunavut, three new cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed since Friday, all in Arviat, according to a government news release.

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In Saskatchewan, new restrictions took effect on Thursday. The province reported 252 new cases and eight more deaths on Saturday.

Under the new measures, which are in place until at least Jan. 15, residents can no longer have guests in their homes and outdoor socializing is capped at 10 people.

Starting Saturday, bingo halls and casinos must also close, and personal care services, such as hairdressers, must reduce their capacity to half. Retailers have until Christmas Day before they also need to drop to 50 per cent capacity. Larger stores will be limited to 25 per cent.

Manitoba saw 238 new infections and nine more deaths on Saturday.

Self-assessment and supports:

With winter cold and influenza season approaching, Alberta Health Services will prioritize Albertans for testing who have symptoms, and those groups which are at higher risk of getting or spreading the virus.

General asymptomatic testing is currently unavailable for people with no known exposure to COVID-19.

Those who test positive will be asked to use the online COVID-19 contact tracing tool, so that their close contacts can be notified by text message.

The province says Albertans who have returned to Canada from other countries must self-isolate. Unless your situation is critical and requires a call to 911, Albertans are advised to call Health Link at 811 before visiting a physician, hospital or other health-care facility.

If you have symptoms, even mild, you are to self-isolate for at least 10 days from the onset of symptoms, until the symptoms have disappeared. 

You can find Alberta Health Services' latest coronavirus updates here.


The province also operates a confidential mental health support line at 1-877-303-2642 and addiction help line at 1-866-332-2322, both available 24 hours a day. 

Online resources are available for advice on handling stressful situations and ways to talk with children.

There is a 24-hour family violence information line at 310-1818 to get anonymous help in more than 170 languages, and Alberta's One Line for Sexual Violence is available at 1-866-403-8000, from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.

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