Alberta Premier Jason Kenney on Tuesday announced a series of new restrictions on outdoor gatherings, schools and businesses as an explosion in the number of COVID-19 cases threatens to overwhelm the health system of Province.
In a live video announcement on television, on the government’s web portal and on his Facebook page, the premier of Alberta said the next three weeks would be critical and the province risks disaster if the spread of the virus is not not quickly mastered.
“If the exponential growth of COVID-19 cases continues, it will push the extended capacity of our hospitals to its extreme limit within a few weeks,” Jason Kenney warned Tuesday evening.
“We will not allow our health care system to be overwhelmed. We must not, and we will not force our doctors and nurses to choose who will receive care and who will not, ”continued the Prime Minister.
For a period of three weeks, as of Wednesday, retail businesses will not be able to accommodate more than 10% of their maximum capacity. Outdoor gatherings will be limited to five people instead of ten.
Places of worship will be limited to 15 people rather than 15% of their maximum capacity and funeral ceremonies will not be able to bring together more than ten people.
All students, Kindergarten to Grade 12, will be required to stay home for two weeks of virtual classrooms starting Friday. Thousands of students at higher levels in Edmonton and Calgary are already homeschooling.
In addition, from Sunday, hairdressing, tattoo and manicure salons will have to remain closed. Restaurants that could serve meals on the terrace will have to make do with take-out and deliveries.
Exceptions are made to municipalities in Alberta where there are less than 50 cases per 100,000 population or less than 30 active cases.
This announcement comes as the federal NDP called on the government to Justin trudeau invoke emergency measures legislation to respond to Alberta.
Edmonton-Strathcona NDP MP Heather McPherson announced in a letter to the Speaker of the House of Commons that she plans to call for an emergency debate Wednesday on the third wave of the pandemic ravaging Alberta.
Alberta has more than 23,000 active cases of COVID-19 and has the highest infection rate in North America. As of Tuesday, 150 patients were in intensive care, just below the record 154 patients the day before.
Earlier Tuesday, dozens of emergency physicians and medical specialists across Alberta sounded the alarm, predicting that the number of intensive care patients could double before the end of the month.
Adding to that number some 150 other patients with other health problems would put the Alberta system at the limit of its capacity to care.