All non-essential businesses must close in Alberta — and there should be no public gatherings of more than 15 people to further slow the spread of COVID-19, says Premier Jason Kenney.
On Friday, Kenney announced further measures designed to flatten the curve of viral transmissions. He said the sooner cases begin to drop off, the quicker life — and Alberta’s economy — can start to recover.
Alberta gained 56 COVID-19 cases in the past 24 hours, bringing the new total to 542, making more extreme measures necessary, said Kenney.
“We must do everything we can to protect the safety of Albertans and limit the spread of COVID-19.”
Alberta’s previous 50-person rule for gatherings was reduced to less than half of that amount for all indoor and outdoor events.
As of now, there should be no more than 15 people at family gathering, religious celebration, weddings or funerals, he added, noting a social distance of two metres must still be observed between individuals.
The premier also announced the closure of non-essential businesses, as well as recreational visits to provincial parks, in his Friday update.
Albertans can still shop at grocery stores, pharmacies and get deliveries.
But other businesses can no longer operate, including hairdressers and barbers, nail salons, tattoo studios, as well as dine-in restaurants, furniture and clothing stores and computer and gaming outlets. (A full list of affected businesses can be found at alberta.ca)
Kenney noted that the delivery and curbside pickup of goods ordered online are still fine.
But the latest closures also apply to non-critical wellness centres and clinics. Kenney said this includes stoppage of all non-urgent health-care treatments, such as physiotherapy, massage, chiropractic, optometry and podiatry.
All laboratories will also stop doing routine testing to focus on suspected viral cases.
However, Kenney wanted to assure Albertans that any urgent health testing will still be done, and there will be provisions made for vital health treatments.
Vehicle traffic to provincial parks was also closed off on Friday afternoon. This does not apply to people living in the parks, or to forestry or oil and gas operations. Traditional First Nations and Metis park access is also permitted.
Red Deer has 17 viral cases in total. Red Deer County has seven, while Lacombe has two, Innisfail has one and there are two cases in Olds and one in Stettler and county.
There are 43 cases in the central zone, compared to 337 in the Calgary zone, 120 in the Edmonton zone, 30 in the north zone and 12 in the south zone.
Kenney praised health workers and Albertans who are doing what they can to stay healthy and prevent spreading the virus to others.