Prime Minister Jason Kenny says people living alone in Alberta will be allowed to attend an event at another home over the upcoming holiday long weekend.
The Prime Minister announced at a press conference on Tuesday that the change in public health regulations would allow these Alberts to move to another home on one occasion from December 23rd.
“This is a small change that, on the advice of the Minister of Health, with the input of the Chief Medical Officer, was adopted by the Govt Cabinet Committee, and it will create a different world for single Alberts, otherwise it will not be possible to see their families in the run-up to Christmas,” Kenny said.
“Similarly, this will allow parents who spend Christmas alone to welcome their children home during the holidays,” Kenny warned: “Please be aware that Christmas is a ban on large community gatherings. We regret not being able to.
During that time, families can host two single people for one event, he said.
Dr Deena Hinsha, the provincial health chief medical officer, said the one-time exemption would allow people living alone to join another house only for one meeting, and that a family could only hold one event, with a maximum of two people. Live alone, including children.
“This approach seeks to balance the mental health of individuals living alone and the need to control the spread of COVID-19,” Hinsha said.
“To be clear, we’re offering a five – day window from December 23 to 28. We will provide a schedule for first responders and others who can make different changes. However, a person living alone can only attend one meeting at this time.”
The Prime Minister said it would somewhat increase the risk of further social interaction, but the government sought to balance it against other views.
“We know that the Christmas season, for a number of reasons, is intertwined with people’s emotional and mental health, and we do not want to exacerbate the already severe mental-health crisis in the province so that people can be completely isolated by Christmas time,” he said.
Alberta reported 1,021 new cases on Tuesday, the lowest number since Nov. 25. A further 11 deaths have been reported, bringing the total to 871. There are 18,311 active cases in the province, which continues the downward trend seen for more than a week.
In the province, 802 people are being treated at the hospital, of which 152 are in the intensive care units.
Kenny said the province has made “tremendous progress” in combating COVID-19 over the past two weeks.
The biggest spike of events seen over the past two months has clearly started around the dining room table in Thanksgiving or other gatherings, where people did not expect the virus to spread, he said.
Many of those who attended those meetings were hospitalized. Some died, he said.
“If we start at the hospital with 800 people at regular large family gatherings during the holidays, we will no doubt lose all of the progress we have made in recent weeks,” he said.
“We will return to rapid growth. It will not take long for that 800 cases in the hospital to turn into 1,600 and 1,600 to 3,200. At that time we will be completely immersed in our health care system.”
There is already “extraordinary pressure” on the health care system, but the commitment of front-line health care workers can keep the province afloat, Kennedy said.
“We can handle 800 cases in the hospital. 2,500 COVID cases cannot be managed in a hospital without starting to deny the care of certain individuals and canceling emergency surgeries and non-COIVID emergency health services.
“It’s not a theory. It’s not a model. It’s not a political option. “
Alberta has received the second shipment of the Pfizer-Bioentech vaccine, which will be delivered to health care workers and long-term care workers in the province, Health Minister Tyler Shantro announced at the same press conference.
From that ship, a total of 25,350 doses will be delivered to vaccination sites around Alberta. Coal and Edmonton each receive 6,825 doses and Red Deer 1,950 doses. The rest will be distributed equally to Brooks, Camros, Drumheller, Edson, Ford McMurray, Grande Prairie, Lethbridge, Medicine Hat, Pincher Creek and St. Paul.
As of Monday, 3,074 Alberta health workers had received the first shots, Shantro said.
“This is good news, this is good news that we need,” he said. “This is the beginning of a once and for all work to spread the disease. But this is only a small first step. In the meantime, follow the restrictions in place during the holidays to prevent the spread of the disease.”
The number of active cases has recently risen to more than 21,000, and he has since dropped to 18,000.
“This is a real improvement, it happens because the number of daily cases is declining,” Shantro said. “It seems we are finally heading in the right direction in Alberta.
He called for continued control of the social interactions of the public.
“If we stop following the restrictions during the holidays, the numbers will not continue to drop,” he said. “Actually, we’ll see another spike, and it’s pretty simple.
“So my message today is: we do the right thing, it works, we have to stick to it.”