EDMONTON, AB – Tougher restrictions are now in effect, and more are coming later this week, as Alberta grapples with record numbers of COVID-19.

Premier Jason Kenney, in a televised address Tuesday evening, said “our province has entered a critical stage of the COVID-19 pandemic” with a record number of people in hospital and the ICU.

He says the disease continues to spread at an alarming rate, especially among younger people.

In light of that, Kenney says the Emergency Management Committee of Cabinet has approved more measures.

“This is a last resort and a necessary step. With cases continuing to rise, we have no choice but to take serious action now or jeopardize putting the health system at risk. If we don’t do this now, if this doesn’t work, then we’ll need a much longer list of restrictions, which no Albertan wants to see. The best way to get out of this is for all Albertans to follow these new measures and get vaccinated when it’s their turn.” – Jason Kenney, Premier

These new measures apply to all Albertans, businesses, organizations and service providers in municipalities or areas with more than 50 cases per 100,000 people and with 30 or more active cases.

Starting Friday, May 7, Kindergarten to Grade 12 classes will move to at home learning until May 25 after the long weekend. Kenney says this will give students a two week reset so they can finish out the rest of the school year.

Starting immediately, and for the next three weeks, workplaces with outbreaks will be mandated to close for 10 days; all post secondary schools will move online; retail services will need to limit customers to 10 percent of fire code capacity; outdoor social gatherings will be limited to five people, down from the current ten; capacity in places of worship will move from 15 percent to 15 people as they were last spring; funerals will be limited to ten people, down from the current 20 people.

Effective 11:59pm Sunday May 9, personal and wellness services like hair salons, barbers, nail salons, estheticians, tattoos and piercing, must close and will be closed for three weeks. Regulated health services, such as physicians, dentists and chiropractors, can remain open by appointment only. Non-regulated health services, such as massage therapists and kinesiologists, can remain open by appointment only.

In-person dining on outdoor patios will also close at that time but restaurants can remain open for take-out only. All outdoor sports and recreation will be prohibited effective Sunday as well, except with members of your household or, if living alone, two close contacts. This is a decrease from the current limit of 10 people.

Working from home remains mandatory unless the employer requires the employee’s physical presence to operate effectively. Where at work for operational effectiveness, employees must mask for all indoor settings, except in work stations or where two-metre physical distancing or adequate physical barriers are in place.

Minimum fines are doubling from $1,000 to $2,000 with the maximum fine for serious offences remaining at $100,000. Kenney says there will be tougher enforcement protocol for repeat offenders.

Alberta currently has the highest per capita rate of COVID-19 in all of Canada and the United States.