Clarity needed on new Alberta restrictions and exemption program: Calgary Chamber of Commerce
The Calgary Chamber of Commerce is calling for clarity on Alberta's new COVID-19 restrictions and exemption program.
“Yesterday’s announcement prompted more questions than answers for our business community," said chamber president and CEO Deborah Yedlin in a statement.
"As the impacts of yesterday’s announcement are being felt today, answers and clarity are needed urgently. Most immediately, businesses need clarity on key elements of the Restriction Exemption Program. It will also be critical to accelerate the implementation of a QR code system and create simple processes along with continued support for businesses as they move forward with the program."
Premier Jason Kenney enacted a state of public health emergency Wednesday and announced the province is bringing in vaccine passports, which he called a Restriction Exemption Program, in response to rising COVID-19 case numbers.
That means places like bars, restaurants and outdoor events will have to require a proof of vaccination from patrons before entering.
Bars, restaurants and outdoor events that don't require proof of vaccination will be limited to outdoor dining only, with a maximum of six people per table. Liquor sales at all establishmentswill continue to end at 10 p.m., consumption will stop at 11 p.m.
Grocery and retail stores will not be part of the program but will be reduced to one-third capacity.
A number of other rules were also imposed, including:
- Starting Sept. 16, all businesses must implement work from home measures unless it is absolutely necessary for employees to be in the workplace;
- Indoor gatherings of fully vaccinated Albertans are limited to a single household, plus one other household and with a maximum of 10 people;
- Anyone who is unvaccinated will not be able to attend any indoor gathering;
- Outdoor gatherings are limited to a maximum of 200 people and physical distancing measures must be maintained, and;
- Limits of one-third capacity will also be returning to places of worship.
“Implementation of new measures will not be without pain points, but overall, organizations participating in the Rapid Exemption Program are facing a competitive advantage," said Yedlin.
"They will operate with fewer restrictions, attract fully-vaccinated people back to their businesses and are now on a more even playing field with other jurisdictions, which supports their ability to attract investment and business from outside the province and minimizes challenges related to cross-border labour.
“We are working closely with the provincial government and Calgary businesses to seek the clarity needed that will support rapid and widespread implementation of vaccine certification."
Alberta announced 1,609 new cases on Wednesday. There are 877 COVID-19 patients in hospital, including 218 in ICU.