Alberta has instituted a mandatory 15-person limit for social gatherings in an effort to reduce the spread of COVID-19 after the province posted a record 1,440 new cases over the weekend — more than the number of cases reported in the entire month of June.
In both Calgary and Edmonton, the positivity rate is now above four per cent, which was the benchmark for Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, to bring in new restrictions.
Her office is also recommending voluntary measures in both cities: wearing non-medical masks in all indoor work settings, except when people are in cubicles or when they can be safely distanced from others, and limiting themselves to no more than three cohorts.
The new policies and recommendations have created some confusion among Albertans, with many people on social media looking for clarifications.
Here are some frequently asked questions, and the answers:
Which activities does the 15-person limit apply to?
The province says the rule applies to social and family gatherings where people are “mixing and mingling” — as opposed to remaining seated or stationary for the duration. This includes parties, celebrations, retirements events, baby showers, wedding receptions, funeral receptions and banquets.
This limit does not apply to “structured events” where socializing is not the purpose of the activity. This includes dining in restaurants, worship services, wedding ceremonies, conferences, funeral services and trade shows, the province says.
Is the 15-person gathering limit for indoor and outdoor?
The rule applies to both indoor and outdoor gatherings.
What is meant by limiting yourself to 3 cohorts?
Hinshaw says people in Calgary and Emdonton should confine their engagement with other people to three cohorts. She explained those cohorts could break down as follows:
- A core cohort made up of the household “and a small group of people with whom you’ve exclusively agreed to gather.”
- A school cohort.
- And one additional sport, social or other cohort.
She says young children in child care can safely be part of four cohorts because child-care cohorts have not been shown to be at a high risk for spreading the virus.
Do the measures apply just to the actual cities or their zones?
The mandatory limit on gathering sizes applies to the cities themselves, not the wider zones.
For areas surrounding Edmonton, there are additional recommendations:
- Wear a mask in all indoor work settings, except when alone in a workplace such as an office.
- Limit cohorts to three.
There are no additional recommendations for areas surrounding Calgary.
Are there fines for breaking the rules?
Fines can be levied up to $1,000 for violating mandatory restrictions. However, Hinshaw emphasized that the goal is not to be punitive and that fines will be reserved for egregious violations.