As of Monday, new mandatory coronavirus restrictions have been introduced for the cities of Edmonton and Calgary.
Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta’s chief medical officer for health, announced the new measures during a live press conference, explaining that the recent surge in new and active cases across the province has enforced the new restrictions.
“We are at a critical juncture right now and we must take steps to slow the rate of growth that we are seeing not just in Edmonton but in Calgary,” said Hinshaw.
“At the same time, we must continue to strike a balance between limiting the spread of COVID-19 and supporting all other elements of people’s health. This is a delicate balance and there is no perfect way to deal with this pandemic. “
Hinshaw found that social gatherings accounted for 15% of outbreaks in the province and were linked to just under a third of outbreak cases in the province.
She said only one outbreak had been seen in one restaurant in the past two weeks.
Effective immediately, both Edmonton and Calgary have a 15-person limit for social gatherings, including dinner parties, birthday parties, retirement events, baby showers, and wedding and funeral receptions.
“These social gatherings tend to be less structured and can struggle to implement key measures like social distancing and hand washing to reduce the risk of exposure,” Hinshaw said.
The newly introduced restrictions do not change the current measures for structured events, restaurants, cinemas, places of worship as well as funeral and wedding ceremonies.
The new restrictions come after a weekend that saw Alberta’s largest increase in cases to date. With an active increase in cases of 826, the province’s total rose to 4,477.
A total of 1,440 new cases of coronavirus were discovered over the weekend, causing Saturday and Sunday to break records for most new cases in one day at 572 and 504, respectively.
Hinshaw noted that the new 15 person limit is temporary and will be re-evaluated after a month or after the growth rate has dropped below 1 and both cities are seeing new daily cases below 100 on a regular basis.
Hinshaw also announced that the voluntary restrictions introduced in Edmonton earlier this month have now been extended to Calgary. This includes recommending wearing masks in indoor work environments and limiting the number of cohorts a person is in to three.