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COVID-19 public health rules reinstated in Alberta

COVID-19 public health measures were reintroduced Friday, including a mask mandate, as cases continued to rise across the province.

The City of Calgary also introduced a mask mandate after a meeting Friday afternoon.

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney outlined the new rules in a press conference Friday, along with Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, and Alberta Health Minister Tyler Shandro.

The announcement comes as 1,339 cases were announced Thursday. Nearly 500 people were in hospital.

Among the measures are a return to mandatory masks in indoor settings, a curfew on liquor sales and a delay in return to work for public servants.  It also includes a recommendation that unvaccinated people limit their social contacts.

Albertans who get a vaccine after today’s announcement are also eligible for a $100 gift card.

Premier Kenney said the vast majority of severe outcomes in Alberta are among the unvaccinated.

“If you are unvaccinated. It is urgent that you protect yourself, our hospitals and our entire community, by getting the benefit of this miracle of modern medicine, as soon as possible,” Premier Kenney said.

The City of Calgary was set to convene the Emergency Management Committee Friday afternoon. Many councillors were fed up with the lack of action on the part of the province, so they took matters into their own hands.

“It’s leading people to become scared, and if there’s that vacuum and that silence, then any number of other voices will fill that void. Some with good intentions, some with bad intentions and potentially others seeking just political gain,” Coun. Jeromy Farkas said of the radio silence from the province.

The province announced earlier this week that 70 per cent of eligible Albertans had gotten their second vaccination.

Calgary begins further action

On Friday afternoon, Calgary city councillors attended a meeting of the Emergency Management committee. Early in that meeting, Mayor Naheed Nenshi said that they’d convene a special meeting of council to discuss possible additional actions.

Calgary city councillors passed a motion that would reinstate masks, among other things.

At that meeting, councillors heard that a municipal mask mandate would aid in the enforcement aspect of the new provincial rules.

Meanwhile, the City of Calgary announced that it would make vaccines mandatory for employees.

By Sept. 13, employees must show proof of first vaccine. By Oct. 18, full vaccination is required.

Employees that cannot be immunized for health or other human rights reasons can opt out of the vaccine requirement. However, they will be subject to a mandatory rapid test.

“As the second largest employer in Calgary, The City has a duty to ensure that our workplaces are safe for both employees and citizens accessing City services, while also modeling for Calgarians the role every individual plays in ensuring the safety of others,” said City Manager David Duckworth.

During the emergency management committee meeting, Duckworth said that he got “flooded” with positive responses when he sent the email to city employees.

“An hour before this meeting I sent the email out to staff letting them know that this was a policy that was coming, my inbox is flooded with thank yous from employees for this direction,” he said.