The Alberta government has now declared a state of public health emergency as COVID-19 continues to significantly spread across the province.
"We may run out of staff and intensive care beds within the next 10 days," Alberta Premier Jason Kenney said at a press conference on Wednesday.
"Unless we slow transmission, particularly amongst unvaccinated Albertans, we simply will not be able to provide adequate care to everyone who gets sick, based on current trends."
Alberta has now introduced stricter COVID-19 restrictions across the province in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19.
Some of the new restrictions now effect include:
Mandatory work-from-home measures at workplaces unless the employer has determined a physical presence is required for "operational effectiveness"
Indoor private gatherings for vaccine-eligible, fully vaccinated individuals are limited to a single household plus one other household to a maximum of 10 people
Outdoor private social gatherings are permitted to a maximum of 200 people
Some additional restrictions that come into effect on Sept. 20 include:
Outdoor dining only with a maximum of six individuals per table (one household or two close contacts for those living alone)
All indoor wedding ceremonies and services are limited to 50 attendees or 50 per cent fire code capacity, whichever is less, and no indoor receptions are allowed
Beginning on Sept. 20, individuals eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine will be required to provide proof of vaccination or a negative privately paid COVID-19 test from within the previous 72 hours to access non-essential businesses services, with the introduction of the "restriction exemption program."
"Businesses that implement the Restrictions Exemption Program would operate as usual, provided they are serving only people who have proof of immunization or who have a recent privately paid negative test, as per the requirements in place," information from the provincial government reads.
While Alberta is implementing new restrictions, the provincial government is receiving extensive criticism on its management of the COVID-19 pandemic to date, particularly after introducing its "Open For Summer" plan earlier this year.
We were wrong in talking about moving this from pandemic management to endemic management in July and August. I, frankly, don't think we were wrong to lift public health restrictions in July, we actually saw that case counts and even the Delta variant continued to stabilize, and even come down in most of July.Jason Kenney, Premier of Alberta
"I also think it's critically important to understand that, at least in this society, you can't sustain serious intrusions into people's lives permanently. No, I don't apologize for the decision to relax public health restrictions in the summer...when numbers were declining and vaccine numbers were going up, supported by the experience of other jurisdictions around the world. To have maintained damaging restrictions, all through the summer, would, I think, have only resulted in massive noncompliance and even more [anger].
Kenney added that he said "optimistic" things in the summer because he believes it is the "job of a leader" to "convey a sense of hope and optimism, not a sense of despair and pessimism."
Several people, including health professionals, took to social media to comment on Alberta's COVID-19 situation.
Alberta, this is what your cellphone looks like tonight. Sent to me by an anesthesia colleague & dear friend trying to keep his head above water in ICU. Not like anyone warned this would happen in say, early July when Covid "vanished" right? #abpoli pic.twitter.com/iLscMJZfIv
— Abdu Sharkawy (@SharkawyMD) September 16, 2021
Listening to this press conference in Alberta is frightening.
Political leaders should not deflect blame for a public health catastrophe to their constituents.
— Michael Warner (@drmwarner) September 16, 2021
Alberta is in a state of emergency. i just hope feds/all provinces do all we can to help. the burnout is swallowing up health workers. #ableg
— Andrew Baback Boozary MD (@drandrewb) September 16, 2021
— Dr. Alika Lafontaine (@AlikaMD) September 16, 2021
This is what happens when evidence is ignored and ideology wins. pic.twitter.com/tYvbZ2PfyV
— Timothy Caulfield (@CaulfieldTim) September 16, 2021
Alberta-this is situation critical. Our system is so strained.
People are dying or being delayed care who SHOULD NOT have to.
Please, get vaccinated.
Our government has shown no ability to lead this,but everyday people can. Thank you to all HCW-this is tough ,keep going!
— Hayley Wickenheiser (@wick_22) September 16, 2021
I want to see the Premier of Alberta prosecuted for opening up against all sound & scientific advice so he could fill donation coffers for the UCP & the CPC.
He lied to us. Albertans died as a result. Our h/c system is failing as a result. Criminal. #ableg
— Kathleen Smith (@KikkiPlanet) September 16, 2021