Calgary

Alberta prepares to introduce further restrictions as COVID-19 cases rise

Alberta’s government is weighing new restrictions as the province sees record-breaking COVID-19 numbers, with two officials telling CBC News an impromptu cabinet meeting was held Wednesday to discuss options.

2 officials told CBC News an impromptu cabinet meeting was held Wednesday to discuss options

Two Alberta officials told CBC News that an impromptu cabinet meeting was held Wednesday to discuss options for new restrictions to curb a surge in COVID-19 cases, with new rules set to be announced at Chief Medical Officer Dr. Deena Hinshaw's press conference Thursday. (Jason Franson/The Canadian Press)

For an update, see: Alberta restricts recreational sports, bar hours to contain COVID-19 surge


Alberta's government is weighing new restrictions for the province as it sees record-breaking COVID-19 numbers. 

Possible restrictions could include capacity limits on worship services and higher-risk activities like fitness classes, government officials told the CBC. They said there may also be lesser changes for businesses, such as reducing capacity or operating hours.

The possible changes are notable given Alberta Premier Jason Kenney's rejection of tighter restrictions despite a recent surge in COVID-19 cases.

Kenney had instead urged "personal responsibility," including asking people not to attend parties or host social gatherings in their homes.

Two officials told CBC News that an impromptu cabinet meeting was held Wednesday to discuss the options on the table for restrictions, and that the new measures are set to be announced at the chief medical officer's news conference scheduled for Thursday. Those new rules have not yet been made final.

CBC News has agreed not to name the officials who were not authorized to speak publicly about the changes. 

The changes will be in line with what the premier's messaging has been for the past few weeks, with only modest and targeted measures. 

No business closures expected

One official said no business closures are expected to be announced, as the options under consideration are more focused on social gatherings and places where large groupings of people could occur.

Both government officials said these new measures do not constitute a lockdown, phrasing the premier has also resisted.

"We've seen other jurisdictions implement sweeping lockdowns, indiscriminately violating people's rights and destroying livelihoods," Kenney said last Friday. "Nobody wants that to happen here in Alberta."

Kenney has maintained that he wouldn't rule out new measures should cases continue to skyrocket.

  • WATCH | Dr. Lynora Saxinger, an infectious diseases specialist, on why she thinks additional measures are needed in Alberta

Additional measures needed in Alberta: infectious diseases specialist

Canada

20 days agoVideo
7:40
Further restrictions are the best way to slow the spread of COVID-19 in Alberta, says Edmonton infectious diseases specialist Dr. Lynora Saxinger, who also says data supports short, stringent lockdowns.   7:40

This week Prime Minister Justin Trudeau implored Canada's premiers and mayors to "do the right thing" and bring in appropriate COVID-19 restrictions for their regions. 

Doctors recommended partial lockdown

On Thursday, a group of more than 430 Alberta physicians and three major health-care unions were sending a letter to Kenney endorsing the idea of a "circuit-breaker" targeted lockdown as cases of COVID-19 continue to surge in the province.

In the letter, the signatories say they feel it is their duty to warn of the "impending health system crisis" resulting from the spread of COVID-19 in Alberta.

"We have reached a juncture where only strong and decisive mandatory measures can prevent our hospitals from becoming overwhelmed," the letter reads.

Thursday's letter also comes on the heels of a separate letter signed by more than 70 physicians earlier in the week, which warned that the province's acute-care system could be overburdened if strict restrictions weren't implemented.

Alberta has seen record setting COVID-19 statistics in the past week, including the highest number of hospitalizations to date during the pandemic.

  • WATCH |  Dr. Jim Kellner, an infectious disease specialist, on the growing concern over Alberta hospitalizations

Record-breaking Alberta numbers not yet reflected in ICU admissions: infectious disease specialist

News

22 days agoVideo
0:29
Dr. Jim Kellner, an infectious disease specialist in Alberta, is concerned about rising COVID-19 case numbers and their impact on hospitals two to three weeks from now. 0:29

The premier and Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta's chief medical officer of health, have both cautioned that if numbers don't decrease, the hospital system will be at risk.

More than 900 new cases were reported on Saturday. 

On Wednesday, the province reported 672 new cases and seven more deaths. The province says there are 217 patients in hospital, with 46 in intensive care.

About the Author

Elise von Scheel is a reporter and producer with the CBC's Parliamentary Bureau, currently working in Calgary. You can get in touch with her at elise.von.scheel@cbc.ca.

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

now