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Alberta COVID-19 health restrictions to stay in place until Jan. 21

COVID-19 case counts remain too high for Alberta to relax public health measures at this time, Premier Jason Kenney said Thursday.

Premier Kenney participated in a media conference Thursday for the first time since he spoke about MLAs that had travelled outside Canada over the Christmas holiday.

In a Wednesday Facebook Live town hall, the premier said that the number of new and active cases are dropping but are still too high. He said the government couldn’t risk a resurgence that would put immense pressure on the health care system.

On Thursday, the province announced 968 COVID-19 cases. There are 871 in hospital and 139 of those are in intensive care. There were also 24 deaths.

Original measures took hold a month ago, with a promise to review them prior to the Jan. 13 expiry.  The premier said those measures would be extended to Jan. 21.

“Given the fact that our case numbers, hospitalizations and positivity rate for testing remains high, Alberta’s current health measures will remain in effect for at least two more weeks,” Premier Kenney said.

He said they’d need to see the impact of the holidays on case numbers, and they want to prioritize the reopening of schools.

Schools will re-open to in-person classes for all grade starting Jan. 11, the premier said.

The City of Calgary provided an update on public health bylaw infractions Thursday afternoon (since Dec. 30):

– 25 violations of the face coverings bylaw

– 19 Public Health Act violation

Spread is still too high, said Dr. Hinshaw

Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw said there’s been improvement in the daily case counts but they still stay around 1,000 per day.

“This is lower than the 1877 detected on December 7, but it is still too high,” she said during the press release.

Dr. Hinshaw noted that after the Thanksgiving holiday, they saw a peak of 94 cases in hospital.

“Today our numbers are almost 10 times that we still have not seen the impact of the recent holidays,” she said.

Dr. Hinshaw said she would be monitoring the spread over the next two weeks to determine if it would be safe to relax public health measures.