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Alberta May long weekend coronavirus update: Outdoor groups at 50; playgrounds open

Alberta has increased outdoor gatherings limits to 50 people, provided attendees are able to maintain two metres distance and observe other coronavirus public health measures.

The information came in the province’s pre-long-weekend daily briefing, as Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw met with media Friday.

This 50-person limit extends to the entire province, even though the cities of Calgary and Brooks had their Stage 1 relaunch pushed back to May 25.

Dr. Hinshaw said it’s still important for all Albertans to follow proper hygiene practices.

“I also encourage you not to share food or drinks at any of these gatherings, as this practice has frequently been linked to transmission of the virus,” she said.

When having guests in an outdoor location, Dr. Hinshaw suggests asking them to bring their own food and drink and disinfecting any washroom facilities regularly. It’s also important to have frequent handwashing.

“Hold off on any gathering if you are uncertain you can follow public health orders and guidelines,” she said.

Indoor gatherings are still limited to fewer than 15 people.

In addition to the rules around outdoor gatherings, Dr. Hinshaw also said that all playgrounds, where not restricted by the municipality, are available for opening.

“I recommend encouraging your children to play with children in the same household, or cohort family, and also sanitize hands before and after playing on a play structure,” she said.

These new rules come into effect as Alberta logged 58 new COVID-19 cases on 4,505 tests. Sixty-two people are in hospital, with nine in intensive care. Four people in the Calgary zone died, bringing the provincial total to 125.

May long weekend opens up Alberta

Dr. Hinshaw said Alberta’s will be out and about this weekend, with warm weather in the forecast for most of the province.

Albertans will be heading to provincial parks and private campgrounds and she encourages everyone to keep up the public health measures.

“The choices that Albertans make I think we again need to collectively be thinking about how this weekend sets the tone for going forward,” she said.

“I think that we need to be celebrating the accomplishments that we’ve achieved. The best way to celebrate the accomplishments that we’ve achieved together is by continuing to be thinking… about what we need to do to prevent the spread.”

She said we’ll see how this all panned out when we get to COVID-19 case numbers in 10 to 14 days.

“This is a bit of a litmus test and we’ll be able to see in one to two weeks time, after the long weekend, how this long weekend impacted the spread of the virus,” Dr. Hinshaw said.