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Alberta

Half Capacity Crowds for World Junior Tournament – Alberta to restrict large gatherings to slow Omicron

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More boosters, tests and measures to fight Omicron

Alberta’s government is taking further steps to strengthen vaccine protection and testing while bringing in new public health measures to reduce contact between Albertans as Omicron cases continue to grow.

All Albertans aged 18 and older can now book a booster shot, as long as at least five months have passed since their second dose, and Alberta has authorized the purchase of 10 million rapid tests.

New measures that will take effect on Dec. 24 will focus on avoiding super-spreader events by decreasing contacts in large capacity venues and limiting unrestricted activities where there is a high risk of transmission.

Albertans are also being asked to reduce their social contacts by 50 per cent during the holiday season.

New public health measures

The new mandatory measures taking effect at 12:01 a.m. on Dec. 24 are:

  • For venues in the Restrictions Exemption Program – 50 per cent capacity limit at venues that seat more than 1,000 people. For venues with capacity of between 500 and 1,000 occupants, 500 is the limit.
  • No food or drink consumption in seated audience settings or during intermissions in the above-mentioned venues.
  • There is no impact on venues under 500.
  • Maximum table capacity of 10 people in restaurants, pubs and bars. No mingling between tables.
  • No interactive activities at restaurants, pubs and bars (e.g., dancing, darts and billiards).
  • Restaurants, pubs and bars must stop liquor service at 11 p.m., and close at 12:30 a.m.

Restrictions continue for both indoor and outdoor social gatherings, weddings, funerals, places of worship and businesses. Albertans should also refrain from workplace social gatherings.

Masking remains mandatory in all indoor public spaces, including in facilities participating in the Restrictions Exemption Program. Masks should fit well and be of high quality. Albertans with risk factors for severe outcomes should wear medical masks in settings with those outside of their household.

COVID-19 boosters

All Albertans aged 18 and older who received their second COVID-19 vaccine at least five months ago can now book a third dose.

Albertans are encouraged to take the first mRNA vaccine available to them for a third dose. Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines offer a high level of protection against COVID-19, particularly against severe outcomes.

Pfizer will be offered to Albertans 18 to 29 years of age for booster purposes as a cautionary measure. While there is an increased risk of myocarditis in younger Albertans, especially in males, from Moderna, individuals are much more likely to experience myocarditis from COVID-19 infection than the vaccine.

All Albertans aged 18 and older can book appointments for third doses online with participating pharmacies or AHS by using the Alberta vaccine booking system or by calling AHS at 811.

At-home rapid test kits

In addition to ongoing orders for rapid tests from the Government of Canada, Alberta’s government will directly purchase up to 10 million rapid tests for anticipated delivery in January, allowing Albertans to secure immediate supplies.

More than 2.5 million rapid tests, or 500,000 rapid test kits, have already been made available to Albertans in the broad rollout that began on Dec 17. Additional supplies have been received from the federal government and are being shipped to participating AHS and pharmacy locations. If you have not already picked up your kit, visit alberta.ca/CovidRapidTests to find the location nearest you with available stock, as many locations still have supplies available.

 

“While these new measures will hopefully lower the risk at large events, our small everyday actions can have a big impact. This is why I appeal to all Albertans to reduce their number of contacts by half over the coming weeks, follow the guidelines already in place, and get the vaccine booster as soon as they are eligible. It’s the single most important thing anybody can do right now to protect themselves from Omicron.”

Jason Kenney, Premier   

“These new measures, along with more boosters and rapid test availability, will help slow the spread of COVID-19. These efforts are critical as work continues to prepare our health-care system for potential challenges from the Omicron variant. I know Albertans are tired of the pandemic, but we need to take what we have learned from previous waves and urgently apply it to our current situation.”

Jason Copping, Minister of Health

“Now more than ever, it is important for Albertans to follow public health measures and consider how their actions may affect others. While we are still learning about Omicron, we do know that it is highly transmissible – cases are currently doubling in a matter of days. Reducing contacts will not only slow the spread of Omicron, but it can help us gain valuable time to prepare for what is to come.”

Dr. Deena Hinshaw, chief medical officer of health

Alberta

Aurora Cannabis shares fall 40% after share sale amendment

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EDMONTON — Aurora Cannabis Inc.’s share price fell by about 40 per cent, after the company announced it sold US$150 million worth of shares.

The Edmonton marijuana company’s share price was $3.47 when trading ended Thursday, but by mid-morning Friday, had fallen to $2.07 and closed at $2.14.

The sale of shares was part of an amendment Aurora made to a previously announced bought deal financing.

The amendment made it possible for a syndicate of underwriters led by Canaccord Genuity and BMO Capital Markets to purchase 61.2 million Aurora units for US$2.45 each.

Each unit is comprised of one common share in Aurora and one common share purchase warrant, which can be used to acquire one common share for US$3.20 each in the next 36 months.

Aurora has yet to record a profit and in recent years has been trying to drive revenues by better aligning supply with demand, laying off staff and closing facilities.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 27, 2022.

The Canadian Press

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Alberta

Analysts say natural gas could go even higher after breaking 14-year record this week

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CALGARY — The price of natural gas hit heights not seen since 2008 this week and analysts say it could go even higher this summer.

The U.S. benchmark natural gas price hit is currently trading at around US$8.60 per million British thermal units, or MMBtu. It surged to over $9 earlier in the week.

Analysts say the price could break $10 this summer due to low inventories and global concerns about energy security.

Summer heat waves could also push prices higher by driving up electricity demand.

The surging prices are good news for Western Canada, where the country’s natural gas production is concentrated.

But an industry group says labour shortages remain an ongoing challenge for drillers.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 27, 2022.

The Canadian Press

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