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COVID-19 restrictions to continue indefinitely

‘We are not in the clear yet’, Hinshaw says as Alberta reaches 1,500 deaths

ATHABASCA/BARRHEAD/WESTLOCK — The provincial restrictions announced in December 2020 won’t be eased any further today, and they’ll continue indefinitely.

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw announced the decision today in her regular COVID-19 update. The measures, which were set to expire Jan. 7 were extended, when premier Jason Kenney said numbers are still too high to safely reopen, and the province was focusing on school safety as students returned to in-person classrooms.

Hospitalizations, Dr. Hinshaw said, are just as high today as they were Dec. 8, 2020, when the restrictions were first announced.

Alberta recorded 678 new cases today out of 14,000 tests conducted for a 4.8 per cent positivity rate. There are 726 people in hospital, 119 of them in ICU. Numbers are “quite high” in some rural zones as well, and pressure on the acute care system has to be eased across the province, not just in particular areas.

"I understand that the restrictions have significant impacts on businesses which have a real impact on people's health ... so none of these decisiosn are taken lightly. What is important is that COVID-19 cannot be restricted to a single municipality," Hinshaw said.

Sixteen more people have died since yesterday’s update, bringing Alberta’s COVID-19 death toll to 1,500. There are 10,256 active cases in the province.

The continuing decline in most metrics is “good news,” Dr. Hinshaw said, and proof that the restrictions are working. However, “we are not in the clear yet.” Alberta has the second highest active case rate per capita in Canada.

“The choices we all make tomorrow, this weekend and over the coming weeks will help determine how the coming months look in our province,” Dr. Hinshaw said.

Last week, the provincial government did ease some restrictions, allowing outdoor gatherings gatherings of up to 10 people, personal service businesses like hair salons and tattoo parlors to reopen, and increasing the limit on funeral services to 20 people.

Andreea Resmerita,