Alberta bars, restaurants closed to in-person dining at 12:01 a.m. Sunday
CALGARY -- Stricter health measures announced Tuesday will see bars and restaurants in Alberta closed to in-person dining effective at 12:01 a.m. Sunday. Masks will be made mandatory while indoors province-wide, according to a memo obtained by CTV News, and hair and nail salons, gyms and tattoo parlours will be closed.
Late Tuesday afternoon, Premier Jason Kenney and Alberta health minister Tyler Shandro announced the new restrictions, which will remain in place for a minimum of four weeks.
"The recent surge in COVID-19 hospitalizations will threaten our healthcare system and the lives of many vulnerable Albertans unless further action is taken now," Kenney said, in a release.
"Alberta's case numbers and hospitalizations have reached a point where we must take stricter measures in order to protect capacity in our health system," Shandro said, in a release. "These mandatory new health measures are some of the strictest we've implemented, but they are absolutely critical to the future of our province."
Along with the expanded mask rule, indoor and outdoor social gatherings will be prohibited effective immediately and close contact limited to household members only. People who live alone will be allowed up to two close contacts for in-person visiting. Those two people must stay the same while the measures are in effect.
Personal and wellness services like hair salons, nail salons, tattoo and piercing parlours will be shut effective midnight on Sunday, and casinos, bingo halls, gaming entertainment centres, horse tracks, raceways, bowling alleys, pool halls, legions and private clubs will also be closed.
Retail businesses can remain open but capacity will be reduced to 15 per cent. Places of worship will also be limited to 15 per cent of capacity for in-person services.
Working from home will be mandatory, "unless the employer determines that work requires a physical presence for operational effectiveness," the memo reads.
"We acknowledge that every restriction creates damage," Kenney said. "Every restriction, like the ones that we are announcing today, will impose enormous damage on the lives and livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of Albertans.
"This is not academic," he added. "This is very real. People will lose their life savings as a result."
As far as celebrating Christmas, Kenney said those gatherings are restricted to members of your household or two close contacts.
"With the promise of a vaccine early in 2021, we can see the end of this terrible time," Kenney said. "But all Albertans must take this more seriously than ever by staying home whenever possible, and following these new measures."
At the press conference, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta's chief medical officer of health, said the restrictions will help.
"This round of restrictions is the most significant that we have introduced, so far, and I believe that this round of restrictions, which again is intended to reduce the number of close contacts that people have with each other, will help us in bringing our numbers down."