What Alberta's latest COVID-19 restrictions mean for you

As of Tuesday, Albertans can no longer attend indoor and outdoor social gatherings and must wear a mask in all public spaces and workplaces.

Outdoor social gatherings banned, but physically distanced walks still allowed

The Alberta government imposed a province-wide mask mandate on Dec. 8. (The Canadian Press)

The Alberta government introduced several new province-wide COVID-19 measures Tuesday, that will have a significant impact on Albertans' lives. 

As of Tuesday, Albertans can no longer attend indoor or outdoor social gatherings and must wear a mask in all public spaces and workplaces. 

The province is also imposing additional business closures and restrictions, beginning Sunday.

Working from home will be mandatory unless the employer requires a physical presence for their operations.

The new restrictions will be in place for at least four weeks.

Details are available on the Alberta government website, but here are answers to some common questions. 

What are the rules around wearing masks? 

Masks are now mandatory in all indoor public spaces and workplaces throughout the province.

The requirement includes places of worship and indoor workplaces and facilities. It applies to employees, customers, visitors, delivery personnel, and contractors.

Masks can be removed when people are working alone in an office, in a safely distanced cubicle, or when a barrier is in place. Farm operations are exempt.

Masks do not have to be worn inside a rental property, such as an apartment, but must be worn in common areas like a hallway.

The mask requirements in schools have not changed. 

Can I still visit with friends? 

All indoor and outdoor social gatherings are prohibited. Close contact is limited to household members only.

But going for a walk with someone from outside of your household is still allowed, as long as physical distancing can be maintained. 

People who live alone can have up to two close contacts in their home. They can also visit their contacts' homes, provided they also live alone.

Single parents who live with children under the age of 18 are also allowed two contacts. 

Weddings and funeral ceremonies with up to 10 attendees are still allowed, but must be held in a public place. 

Can I quarantine for two weeks then attend a gathering? 

Albertans are not allowed to circumvent the rule by quarantining for a period of time before a gathering. Speaking Tuesday, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, the province's chief medical officer of health, said allowing people to circumvent the rules by isolating would be difficult to enforce. She also noted some people have different definitions of what is required for isolating, so for now there will be no exceptions to the social gathering ban. 

Those who do not respect the social gathering ban could be subject to a fine of up to $1,000.

Which businesses will close? 

Beginning Sunday, all restaurants, pubs, bars, lounges and cafes are closed to in-person service. Take out, curbside pickup and delivery are allowed.

Retail services, such as grocery and liquor stores, will remain open, but they must reduce their capacity to 15 per cent. The same applies to shopping malls and places of worship.

Businesses that offer personal and wellness services are required to close. The services include: massage therapy, body piercing and tattoos, hairstyling and barbering, esthetics, tanning, facial treatments, and manicures and pedicures.

Entertainment businesses are also mandated to close. They include: casinos, bingo halls, bowling alleys, libraries, museums, science centres, waterparks, indoor playgrounds, theatres, and concert and banquet halls. 

Hotels can remain open, but must close their in-person dining rooms, spas, gyms, and pools.

How can I participate in physical activity?  

Indoor recreation facilities, such as gyms, fitness studios, pools, community halls, indoor rinks and arenas must also close on Dec. 13.

Outdoor rinks and other outdoor recreational facilities such as ski hills will remain open, contingent on their ability to enforce physical distancing.

Outdoor sports, such as skating or skiing, are still permitted in groups of up to ten people as long as a two-metre distance can be maintained between the participants, Alberta Health said.

Should I travel? 

The province is discouraging all out-of-town travel at this time.

Albertans who have been staying elsewhere, such as a student away for school, are allowed to return home.

Those who are returning from international travel must follow public health directives, as set out in the border testing pilot program.

Out-of-town visitors cannot stay in people's homes while the restrictions are in place, regardless of where they are coming from, said Alberta Health.