Alberta aims to avoid restrictions as PM calls for measures during recent COVID-19 surge
CALGARY -- Alberta stood firm Tuesday on its path to avoid public health restrictions as the prime minister called on local governments not to keep sectors of the economy open if it’s putting Canadians at risk.
Citing concerning record-breaking spikes in new COVID-19 cases across the country over the past few days Prime Minister Trudeau addressed the country, calling on provincial and municipal leaders to consider restrictions.
“I’m imploring the premiers and the mayors to please do the right thing: Act now to protect public health,” said Trudeau.
“If you think something is missing in the support we are offering your citizens - tell us,” he added.
It comes one day after 70 Alberta medical professionals called on the province to implement a two week lockdown to slow the spread of the virus and give contact tracers time to catch up.
Jason Kenney’s office said, “the premier has been clear that his priority is protecting both lives and livelihoods,” and pointed to comments in a press conference held four days earlier.
“We've seen other jurisdiction implement sweeping lockdowns indiscriminately violating people's rights and destroying livelihoods, nobody wants that to happen here in Alberta,” said Kenney at a November 6 COVID-19 briefing.
“Alberta's government will always follow the evidence and the data based on the advice of our public health experts," he added.
As case numbers spiked at the beginning of November, the only measure Alberta added was a 15 person limit on private gatherings in communities on watch status.
Manitoba’s soaring case numbers led that province to declare a red alert with restrictions to start Thursday which will look similar to the spring lockdown, except schools will remain open.
“COVID-19 is beating us. We need to get back to the fundamentals, we need to flatten our COVID-19 curve, and we need to do that now,” said Manitoba’s Premier Brian Pallister.
Pallister explained additional funding programs for businesses, such as wage subsidy and grant programs, would be offered to help shops survive the shutdown which is expected to last four weeks.
Toronto planned to release new restrictions Tuesday as Ontario’s premier said he couldn’t rule out a lockdown.
“I think we showed before at the beginning of this pandemic, if it needs to be done, we'll do it based on the advice of our health professionals,” said Ontario Premier Doug Ford.
Ford revealed a colour-coded system for COVID-19 restrictions, saying it was a preventative plan allowing flexibility while giving health officials the ability to add more restrictions if they feel necessary.
Some people think Alberta should consider more restrictions.
“I’m a healthcare worker so it does make me nervous to see people being out and about not wearing a mask and they just want to get back to their social lives, but there are bigger things at stake I think,” said Karen Winters.
“It does feel quite relaxed here, which is good in terms of me working and getting money and stuff but it might feel a little bit too relaxed,” said Kyle Bertrand.
Others think Alberta has gone far enough.
“I do think social distancing and wearing masks is a good thing," said Jason Marley. "I don’t think we should be locking down the economy because that negatively affects individuals who are working."
“I think the restrictions mean well but also make people depressed so I would like to see less of them,” said Maciej Lukowski.