Provincial government imposes additional COVID-19 restrictions

Story by Stacie Gaetz


Photos by iStock

On Dec. 8, Premier Jason Kenney announced a number of new and “devastating” restrictions aimed at reducing the number of COVID-19 cases and taking some of the strain off of the province’s health care system.

“I know how devastating today’s announcement and these measures are for tens of thousands of small business owners who have been coping through an impossibly difficult year, for hundreds of thousands of their employees and so many others who have found themselves without work,” Kenney said during a press conference on Dec. 8.

“But we are now at a place where viral transmission is so widespread in the community that it does not any longer matter how careful business operators are. Because community transmission means that staff and clients, the general public, represent a risk of transmission.”


Effective Dec. 8 and running until at least Jan. 12, all indoor and outdoor social gatherings are prohibited. Close contacts are limited to household members only while people who live alone may have up to two close contacts who live outside of the home.

Kenney said he understands that it is difficult to restrict Christmas festivities to only those in the home but it must be done.

“If we relax the public health measures to permit large family gatherings in just three weeks’ time, we will, without a shadow of a doubt, see a large increase in hospitalizations and fatalities,” said Kenney.

“We simply cannot let this Christmas turn into a tragedy for many families.”

All out of town travel is also discouraged.

What’s Open

Regulated health services, such as doctors, dentists and therapists, can remain open by appointment only as long as public health orders and sector guidance is followed. Appointments should be limited to one-on-one services.

Hotels, motels, hunting and fishing lodges may remain open but must not offer spa, pool or gym access and no in-person dining (room service only).

Restaurants and Bars and Retail

As of Dec. 13, all restaurants, pubs, bars, lounges and cafes are closed to in-person service. Take out, curbside pickup and delivery services are allowed.

Retail services must reduce customer capacity to 15 per cent of fire code occupancy or a minimum of five customers.

Curbside pick-up, delivery and online services are encouraged for retail, and people are asked to shop alone if possible or only with the people you live with.

Schools and Workplaces

Masks are mandatory in all indoor public spaces and workplaces, effective Dec. 8.

As of Dec 13, working from home is mandatory when physical presence is not required.

There has been no change to the mandatory restrictions on schools that were imposed on Nov. 30.

Grades K-6 will continue with in-person learning until their scheduled winter break (generally Dec. 18) and Grades 7-12 are currently learning at home.

The plan is for all students to learn from home for the week of Jan. 8 and then return to in-person learning on Jan. 11.

Licensed daycare, out-of-school and preschool program can continue operating as long as providers follow all public health orders.

What’s Closed

All entertainment businesses and entities must close, including:

  • Casinos, bingo halls, gaming centres
  • Racing centres, horse tracks, raceways
  • Bowling alleys, pool halls
  • Legions and private clubs (nightclubs must remain closed)
  • Art galleries, libraries and museums
  • Science and interpretive centres
  • Amusement and water parks
  • Children’s play centres and indoor playgrounds
  • Theatres, auditoria and concert halls
  • Banquet halls, conference centres and trade shows
  • All indoor recreation facilities must close, including:
  • Gyms and studios
  • Fitness and recreation centres
  • Spas, pools, indoor rinks and arenas
  • Day and overnight camps
  • Community halls and centres

All personal and wellness businesses must close. Personal services include:

  • esthetics, manicure, pedicure, body waxing, make-up
  • body, nose and ear piercing, and tattoos
  • artificial tanning and spray tanning
  • facial, eyebrow and eyelash treatments
  • cosmetic skin and body treatments
  • laser hair and tattoo removal
  • hairstyling and barbering

Wellness services include:

  • massage therapy
  • floatation tanks
  • reflexology
  • colonic irrigation

Group physical activities, including team sports, fitness classes and training sessions, are still prohibited or restricted across Alberta as are performance activities include dancing, singing, theatre and playing wind instruments.

For more information on the new restrictions, click here.