But as active cases of COVID-19 continue to rise, the province’s Chief Medical Officer of Health urges Albertans to stay home as much as possible. “The set of restrictions we have in place were effective in March, were effective in December,” Hinshaw said Thursday at a press conference.
Asked about retail outlets, which continue to operate with significantly reduced customer capacity, Hinshaw said it would be difficult to determine which businesses are really critical. This decision posed a major challenge for the province a year ago.
“I would encourage all Albertans to consider following, once again, the recommendation to leave home only for essential purposes,” she said.
Alberta reported 2,211 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, but more deaths from the disease.
There are now 24,497 active cases in the province, which has the highest rate of active cases in Canada. The positivity rate on Thursday was 11.1%.
“We don’t know yet if we’ve peaked in new cases,” Hinshaw said.
The provincial R-value of 1.12 last week shows cases continue to rise.
Prime Minister Jason Kenney on Tuesday tightened public health restrictions in a bid to slow the spread.
Implementing these new measures, which range from bringing all schools online to reducing the size of outdoor gatherings, was key, Hinshaw said.
“We all need to dramatically reduce the number of face-to-face interactions we have, every day, in every part of our life,” Hinshaw said.
“The cases have increased to the point that we can’t just target one sector or one group. Whether it’s social gatherings, church services, beauty venues, or fitness classes, every activity involves Albertans mingling in person and at risk of exposure to the virus. “
Across the province, hospitals were treating 654 patients for the disease, including 146 in intensive care beds.
Hinshaw noted the mismatch between new cases and the number of hospitals, but added that the double punch of restrictions and the accelerated rollout of vaccines would start to make a difference.
“The combined impact of these two things together can have a significant impact – and I predict, will – have a significant impact on transmission in the weeks to come,” she said.
The regional distribution of active cases on Thursday was as follows:
- Calgary area: 10639
- Zone d’Edmonton: 5979
- North zone: 3616
- Central areas: 2899
- South Zone: 1321
- Unknown: 43
The sweeping measures introduced Tuesday moved all Kindergarten to Grade 12 students online, closed restaurant patios and further restricted capacity inside businesses and places of worship.
All indoor fitness activities should cease. All personal services such as hair salons and tattoo parlors must close. With the exception of critical services, workplaces with outbreaks must temporarily close.
The fine for violating public health measures has been doubled to $ 2,000 and the province has committed to a coordinated enforcement strategy to deal with repeat offenders.
The province also expanded vaccine eligibility. All Albertans aged 12 and over will be able to book as of Monday, putting an additional 1.3 million Albertans in line for the shots.
Alberta Health Services reported more than 100,000 new appointments were made as of Thursday.
“We have already taken this route. But thanks to vaccines, we see other jurisdictions bend the curve and keep it there, ”Hinshaw said.
“It will happen here too, as more and more of us are getting vaccinated and being part of a protective wall around our communities so that we don’t have to endure these types of widespread restrictions again.
“It’s a tough time, but we can get through it – and get over it – by limiting in-person interactions as much as possible.