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Alberta COVID-19 measures didn’t go far enough: ThinkHQ survey

Albertans would overwhelmingly approve mandatory mask rules to help curb COVID-19 case counts, according to a new research panel from ThinkHQ Public Affairs.

Overall, in a panel of 1,126 Albertans surveyed from Nov. 18 to 21, 51 per cent indicated that the Nov. 12 provincial restrictions didn’t go far enough.  That’s compared with 29 per cent who felt they were “about right” and 13 per cent who believe they “go too far.”

Among the restrictions laid out, recreation activities were postponed for two weeks, private indoor gatherings were limited to 15 and liquor service at pubs, bars and restaurants to 10 p.m.

The survey comes out as Alberta had 1,155 COVID-19 cases Friday, 1,300+ Saturday and 1,586 on Sunday.

ThinkHQs survey suggests the most conspicuous omission from the provincial restrictions was a mandatory mask rule.

According to the survey, 81 per cent of respondents would approve of mandatory masks. Roughly 16 per cent would oppose it.

The panel also agrees that stronger enforcement is needed (78 per cent).

Finally, six-in-10 of the panel respondents said that there should be a so-called “circuit breaker” lockdown of between 14 to 28 days for all non-essential businesses.

““The health experts told us it was coming, and here we are – the Winter Wave,” said ThinkHQ president, Marc Henry.

“A vaccine may be on its way in the months ahead, but today Albertans are seeing daily headlines of record infection rates, hospitalizations, shrinking intensive care capacity and spiking COVID related deaths. As Dr. Hinshaw recently noted, our current situation is quite ‘dire’.”

Political problem

Henry said that spiking case counts, frustration over ongoing spread and limited restrictions is creating a political headache for Alberta Premier Jason Kenney.

“Beyond the obvious public health situation, the Kenney government has both a communications and political problem on their hands; they are trying to thread an almost impossibly small needle,” Henry said.

Henry implies that while Albertans would clearly support further restrictions. But the province is responding to a minority (of primarily UCP voters, he said) who strongly oppose it.

“And as each day passes, the provincial government’s options and prospects shrink,” he said.

“If spread of the virus finally forces their hand to shut down the economy again, Conservative voters certainly won’t thank them for the delay, while others will criticize them for not taking interim steps to try to ‘bend the curve’ to avoid an economic shutdown.”

The survey was weighted to reflect gender, age and region of Alberta population according to Statistics Canada.

The margin of error for a similar, probability-based random sample of this size would be +/- 2.9 per cent, 19 times out of 20.