EDMONTON and VICTORIA, B.C. — Two more Canadian provinces have joined Ontario in declaring a state-of-emergency in an effort to “flatten the curve” amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
On Tuesday, Alberta Premier Jason Kenney declared a public state-of-health emergency in an effort to combat the growing spread of the virus. British Columbia also declared a public health emergency Tuesday after reporting three new COVID-19 deaths.
Nova Scotia premier Stephen McNeil announced new restrictions on the food-and-beverage industry Tuesday after health officials announced two more presumptive cases of COVID-19 in the province.
McNeil said all bars would have to close by 12:01 a.m. AT Thursday. Restaurants would be restricted to takeout and delivery only and the NSLC would start operating on reduced hours.
The announcements came on the heels of Tuesday’s state-of-emergency declaration from Ontario Premier Doug Ford.
“The situation is very serious,” says Kenney. “Decisive action is needed and we’re taking that action. We have to take more aggressive measures to contain the virus, more aggressive social-distancing measures.”
Kenney also announced a number of new social-distancing measures — effective immediately — recommended by provincial health authorities, including:
• a ban on any organized gatherings of more than 50 people
• Albertans are now prohibited from visiting a number of venues including public recreation centres, casinos, bingo halls, bars, nightclubs, fitness centres, arenas, museums, and indoor children’s play centres
• Sit-down restaurants, pubs, delis and coffee shops are now limited to a maximum of 50 people or 50 per cent of their maximum capacity, whichever is lower
“Drive-thru, takeout and delivery will still be permitted,” Kenney says, adding the province has changed regulations allowing restaurants to engage in off-sales of liquor.
He also says conferences, weddings and funerals are not exempt from the declaration and should be cancelled.
“I recognize these measures will have a profound impact on the lives of Albertans. But they are frankly necessary in the face of this growing pandemic.”
Venues deemed to be essential services including grocery stores, airports, homeless shelters, soup kitchens and the Alberta legislature building will remain open.
In B.C., the province’s provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry ordered all bars and clubs in the province to close immediately. Gatherings of more than 50 people are prohibited and social distancing is being encouraged.
“Bars and clubs, in my opinion, are not able to meet our test for social distancing and therefore must close,” she said. “Restaurant and cafes can in some cases meet the distancing requirements, but those that cannot maintain social distancing will need to close or move to takeout and delivery services.”
Both provinces announced financial aid will be forthcoming to help those individuals impacted by COVID-19. More details on that fiscal relief is expected in the coming days.