Government of Alberta declares public health emergency

Story by Stacie Gaetz


Photos by iStock

Alberta has declared a Public Health Emergency to protect the health care system from COVID-19.

In a press conference on Nov. 24, Premier Jason Kenney announced that all indoor social gatherings have now been banned. This ban will be enforced with $1,000 fines.

“Here is today’s urgent reality,” said Kenney during the conference.

“If we do not slow the sharp rise of both hospitalizations and ICU admissions, they will threaten our ability to continue to deliver the health services we all rely on.”

Indoor social gatherings with anyone outside of the household are not permitted and outdoor gatherings must be limited to 10 people. Backyard gatherings that require movement in/out of homes are not permitted.

The measures went into place on Nov. 24 and will remain in place for at least three weeks.


Students in grade 7 to 12 will start in-home learning on Nov. 30 and continue learning at home until after Christmas break on Jan. 11.

Diploma exams are optional for rest of the school year. Students and families can choose to write an exam or receive an exemption for the January, April, June and August 2021 exams.

Kindergarten to Grade 6 students will continue in-person learning until their scheduled winter break. They will take part in at-home learning for the first week of classes (on Jan. 8) and then resume in-person classes on Jan. 11.

“All in-person learning will be delayed a week after the holiday to allow kids who have been around family over the holidays… that latency period before going back to school,” said Kenny.

“These measures are tough, but they are necessary, they are needed to protect our health care system from being overwhelmed and to ensure Albertans can access care for medical needs besides COVID-19.”


Kenney also encouraged employers to allow employees to work from home whenever possible.

“I truly appreciate that many businesses have made major investments creating safe workplaces, but the hard fact is this: transmission at office continues to be a major reason for spread,” said Kenney.

Businesses that are closed for in-person use include:

  • Banquet halls, conference centres, trade shows, auditoria and concert venues, non-approved/licensed markets, community centres
  • Children’s play places or indoor playgrounds
  • All levels of sport (professional, semi-professional, junior, collegiate/universities and amateur). Exemptions may be considered.

Restaurants and bars can remain open with a number of restrictions including a maximum of six people from the same immediate household at a table and no movement between tables.

Retail businesses may remain open with capacity limited to 25 per cent of the occupancy under the Alberta Fire Code.

Businesses such as personal, wellness and professional services may remain open by appointment only.

The measures are meant to help protect the health care system, keep schools and businesses open as much as possible, and protect vulnerable Albertans, according to the Alberta Health Services website.

For more information on the current restrictions, click here.