By Bill Graveland, The Canadian Press on October 9, 2020.
CALGARY – Premier Jason Kenney says Alberta will not follow Ontario’s lead on stricter restrictions because of a jump in COVID-19 cases.
Starting Saturday, indoor dining in restaurants and bars will be prohibited in Toronto, Peel Region and Ottawa, while gyms, movie theatres and casinos will be closed. Ontario marked a record 939 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday.
Numbers have jumped in Alberta, too, which hit a new daily high of 364 infections Thursday. Some 276 of those were in the Edmonton region.
Alberta’s top doctor has asked people in the capital area to voluntarily wear masks indoors at workplaces and limit gatherings to no more than 15.
Kenney says his government will continue to take a “lighter approach” when it comes to restrictions.
“We want as much as humanly possible to maintain our approach, which is focused on people exercising personal responsibility,” he said Friday after making an agriculture announcement.
“For every public health restriction there are negative and sometimes devastating broader social, economic and health consequences.
“We’re not going to enforce our way out of this.”
Kenney suggested some jurisdictions have been “narrowly and myopically” focused on limiting the spread of the novel coronavirus. He said new restrictions could have far-reaching effects on Albertans.
“If we come back with another wave of restrictions that affect tens of thousands of businesses and shut them down indefinitely, and if people think that’s what the next year might look like, I really fear what the economic, social, mental and emotional health impacts of that will be.”
Dr. Deena Hinshaw said Thursday there were 1,251 active cases in the Edmonton region — double the number in Calgary.
Edmonton’s Misericordia Community Hospital announced its second outbreak of the pandemic this week affecting eight patients and two staff, and the Foothills Medical Centre in Calgary has been dealing with outbreaks on a number of units for about three weeks. Ten people have died..
Hinshaw said there have been several other outbreaks linked to workplaces and social gatherings. `
`The Edmonton zone now faces a crucial juncture.,” Hinshaw told a news conference.
“It typically takes one to two weeks before a rise in cases contributes to a rise in hospitalizations.
“We must take action to slow the virus’s spread in the zone and make sure the health system can continue supporting Albertans.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published October 9, 2020.