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Alberta

Vaccine mandate and province-wide restrictions

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New vaccine requirements and COVID-19 measures in Alberta

Alberta has declared a state of public health emergency and will implement new health measures to expand capacity, increase vaccination rates and reduce transmission of COVID-19.

New temporary health measures to help slow the spread of COVID-19 will apply provincewide. This includes new restrictions on restaurants, indoor gatherings, weddings and funerals, retail, entertainment venues, and indoor sport and fitness beginning Sept. 20. Measures in workplaces, indoor private gatherings, places of worship, schools and children’s activities, as well as mandatory masking and physical distancing in all indoor public spaces begin Sept. 16.

Starting Sept. 20, businesses or event organizers who choose to implement a program checking patrons for government-issued proof of vaccination or a recent negative privately purchased COVID-19 test will be able to have an exemption to restrictions. If a business or service chooses not to require proof of vaccination, they will be required to adhere to the new health measures.

“We are taking necessary and critical steps to prevent our health system from being overwhelmed and once again slow the spread of COVID-19 in Alberta. These steps are not easy for anyone, but with COVID-19 hospitalizations continuing to rise, particularly amongst the unvaccinated, we have no choice but to implement the proof of vaccination measures and temporary restrictions. We have overcome past COVID-19 waves and we will once again. I strongly urge anyone who has not yet been vaccinated to do so immediately. Please protect yourself, your loved ones and your community.”

Jason Kenney, Premier

“The new proof of vaccination requirements will make us all safer. This will help increase vaccination rates across the province and protect Albertans in settings that pose a higher risk of transmission. We’ve seen from other jurisdictions that proof of vaccinations do help encourage people to get vaccinated, and I am calling on every eligible Albertan to get fully immunized as soon as possible.”

Tyler Shandro, Minister of Health

“I know Albertans, especially those who have done everything they can to keep not only themselves but their fellow Albertans safe, are tired. But I’m asking you to please continue to do the right thing to help protect our health-care system and our communities. Please continue to make safe choices, get vaccinated if you haven’t already, wash hands and stay home when ill. Together, we will protect our health system and each other.”

Dr. Deena Hinshaw, chief medical officer of health

New public health measures provincewide

The following measures will take effect on Sept. 16:

Workplaces:

  • Mandatory work-from-home measures are in place unless the employer has determined a physical presence is required for operational effectiveness.

Private social gatherings:

  • Indoor private gatherings for vaccine-eligible, fully vaccinated individuals are limited to a single household plus one other household to a maximum of 10 people, with no restrictions on children under the age of 12.
  • Attendance at any indoor private social gathering is not permitted for vaccine-eligible individuals who are unvaccinated.
  • Outdoor private social gatherings are permitted to a maximum of 200 people, with two-metre physical distancing maintained at all times.

Places of worship:

  • Places of worship must limit attendance to one-third fire code capacity.
  • Face masks will be mandatory and there must be two-metre physical distancing between households or two close contacts for those living alone.

Outdoor events and facilities with no indoor portion (excluding washrooms):

  • No attendance restrictions, however two-metre physical distancing must be in place.

Schools (K-12):

  • Mandatory masking for students in grades 4 and up, plus staff and teachers in all grades. Schools that can implement an alternate COVID safety plan can be exempted from mandatory masking.
  • Elementary schools are to implement class cohorting.
  • For physical activities in schools:
    • Youth aged 18 and under are not required to mask or maintain two-metre distance when engaged in physical activity.
    • There are no restrictions on outdoor activities.
    • Indoor sports/performance/recreation/special interests are permitted with requirements for two-metre physical distancing, where possible.

Children’s sport/performance/recreation (extracurricular sports, performance, recreation and special interest):

  • Indoor activities are permitted, with requirements for two-metre physical distancing and masking where possible, and symptom screening for participants.
  • Youth aged 18 and under are not required to mask or maintain physical distancing during a physical activity, such as a team sport.
  • Spectator attendance is limited to one-third fire code capacity. Attendees must be masked and ensure physical distancing between different households or an individual who lives alone and their two close contacts.
  • There are no restrictions on outdoor activities.

Children’s activities:

  • Children’s day camps must have two-metre physical distancing between participants and masking indoors.                                                    
  • Children’s overnight camps must follow cohort models.

The following measures will take effect on Sept. 20:

Restaurants:

  • Outdoor dining only with a maximum of six individuals per table (one household or two close contacts for those living alone).
  • Liquor sales and consumption restrictions (10 p.m. sales and 11 p.m. consumption) apply.
  • Restaurants are eligible to implement the Restrictions Exemption Program.

Weddings and funerals:

  • All indoor ceremonies and services are limited to 50 attendees or 50 per cent fire code capacity, whichever is less.
  • No indoor receptions are permitted.
    • The hosting facility would be eligible to implement the Restrictions Exemption Program.
  • All outdoor ceremonies and services for weddings and funerals must be limited to 200 attendees. Outdoor receptions are required to follow liquor sales and consumption restrictions (i.e., sales end at 10 p.m. and consumption ends by 11 p.m.).
    • The hosting facility would be eligible to implement the Restrictions Exemption Program.

Retail, entertainment and recreation facilities (includes any indoor venues, libraries, conferences, rental spaces, concerts, nightclubs, casinos and similar):

  • Attendance is limited to one-third fire code capacity and attendees are only permitted to attend with their household or two close contacts for those living alone. Attendees must be masked and have two-metre physical distancing between households.
    • These facilities are eligible to implement the Restrictions Exemption Program.

Adult (over 18 years old) sport, fitness, performance, and recreation:

  • Indoor activities:
    • No indoor group classes or activities are permitted.
    • One-on-one training or individual workouts are permitted but three-metre physical distancing is required.
    • No contact between players; indoor competitions are paused except where vaccine exemptions have been granted.
    • These facilities and programs are eligible to implement the Restrictions Exemption Program. Specific exemptions may also be granted on a case-by-case basis.
  • There are no restrictions on outdoor activities.

Restrictions Exemption Program

  • Starting Sept. 20, vaccine-eligible individuals will be required to provide government-issued proof of immunization or a negative privately paid COVID-19 test from within the previous 72 hours to access a variety of participating social, recreational and discretionary events and businesses throughout the province.
  • To enter certain spaces that are participating in the program, including restaurants, bars and indoor organized events, people aged 12 and older will be required to show their proof of vaccination or a negative recent test result.
  • Businesses that implement the Restrictions Exemption Program would operate as usual, provided they are serving only people who have proof of immunization or who have a recent privately paid negative test, as per the requirements in place. This means they could immediately and without restriction serve any individual eligible for vaccination who:
    • Has proof of double vaccination (note that for a transitional period between Sept. 20 and Oct. 25, proof of a single dose would be considered acceptable as long as the dose was given two weeks or more before the time of service).
    • Has documentation of a medical exemption.
    • Has proof of a recent (within the previous 72 hours) negative COVID-19 test (either PCR or Rapid Test). The test may not be from Alberta Health Services or Alberta Precision Laboratories.
    • Those under age 12 would not need to provide proof of immunization or a negative test to enter a participating business.
    • This program would not apply to businesses or entities that need to be accessed for daily living.
  • Albertans can access copies of their COVID-19 vaccination records through MyHealth Records. For the time being, Albertans should avoid logging into MyHealth Records to download their records. The printable card, which was going to be made available on Sept. 16, will now be available on Sept. 19.

Get fully vaccinated

More than 79.5 per cent of eligible Albertans are now protected with at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine and 71.4 per cent are fully vaccinated. Vaccines dramatically reduce the risk of severe outcomes and the risk of infection.

Vaccines are the most powerful tool in the fight against COVID-19. Vaccine appointments are widely available through AHS or participating pharmacies and physician clinics. Book yours at alberta.ca/vaccine. First doses are also available at select walk-in clinic locations. Two doses provide maximum effectiveness and long-lasting protection.

This is a news release from the Government of Alberta.

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Alberta

Alberta's chief medical officer says most of 11 Omicron COVID cases were vaccinated

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EDMONTON — Alberta’s total number of Omicron variant COVID-19 cases remains at 11, but the province’s chief medical officer of health expects that number to grow.

Dr. Deena Hinshaw also says seven of the 11 people were fully vaccinated, two were partially vaccinated and two were unvaccinated.

Alberta Health is still gathering data on the effects and spread of Omicron, but Hinshaw says early indications are those who contract the variant can avoid severe outcomes if vaccinated.

She also reported 240 new cases of COVID-19 for a total of about 4,100 active cases.

There are 373 people in hospital with the illness, including 76 in intensive care.

Hinshaw says more than 60,000 youngsters between the ages of 5 to 11 have received a first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 7, 2021

The Canadian Press

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Alberta

Calgary researcher to lead study on E. coli infection in children

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CALGARY — A University of Calgary researcher will lead a North American study examining a new way to treat E. coli infections that can cause kidney failure in children.

Professor and pediatrician Stephen Freedman will oversee the 26-site project, set to include more than 1,000 kids and run six years beginning in September 2022.

The university says the U.S.-based National Institutes of Health is providing more than $11 million for the investigation, meant to stop disease from progressing from bloody diarrhea to kidney shutdown and neurologic complications.

The Alberta Children’s Hospital Research Institute is also providing funds.

The study will focus on Shiga-toxin producing E. coli, or STEC, which is commonly found in cattle and can spread to humans. The University of Calgary says Alberta has one of the highest rates of STEC infection in the world given its abundance of cattle, sloped terrain, food crops and use of well water.

Freedman says the study will be the first in 20 years to evaluate a treatment focused on stopping disease progression. 

He says it will consider the value of “early and aggressive intravenous rehydration,” a rarity in early stages of the illness. The approach calls for large volumes of intravenous fluids early-on in a bid to maintain blood flow to the kidneys.

Infected children in the study will be hospitalized before any complications occur, even if they appear relatively well, Freedman said Tuesday in a release.

“What often happens is infected children will recover from the diarrhea and may look well but in nearly 20 per cent of children, unbeknownst to their parents and sometimes doctors, their kidneys are in the process of failing,” Freedman said. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that nearly 100,000 high-risk STEC infections occur annually in the United States.

More than 60 per cent of these infections are in children, half of whom are younger than five years old. Young children are at the highest risk of complications, which can include renal failure, strokes and in rare cases, death.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 7, 2021.

The Canadian Press

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