Albertans say ‘mixed messaging’ from the Premier muddy latest health restrictions

CALGARY — Less than a month ago, the Premier said it has potential to be the best summer in Alberta’s history. 

But as April ends, the provincial COVID-19 case outlook has never been bleaker. 

New restrictions announced Thursday will aim to right the ship, but some believe before Alberta can do that, it will need clearer orders from the captain. 

“(Premier Jason Kenney) has mixed his messages,” political scientist Keith Brownsey said. “It’s been a rollercoaster and I think people are concerned that we don’t have a government that knows what to do.”

The latest public health measures were met with mixed reception. 

Many Albertans say they’re confused by them and how they relate to previous Kenney statements. 

Take, for example, the possibility of a curfew. 

The Premier said a curfew could be implemented in municipalities that ask for help once they reach a certain case threshold. 

But less than a month ago in Lethbridge, Kenney said that wasn’t in the cards. 

“We won’t be pursuing that kind of a lockdown,” he said on March 31, referring to other provinces who have brought in curfews. 

In fact, some say Kenney also contradicted himself the day before his latest announcement. 

“The notion that there’s a direct linear relationship between the restrictions and viral spread is not the experience of this pandemic,” Kenney said Wednesday. 

24 hours later, the Premier insisted he has “always said…that we are open to bringing in additional targeted measures.”

Brownsey believes the apparent back and forth is an example of Kenney trying to appease both sides of a party that is showing “ideological cracks.”

“It signals that the government may not know what it’s doing,” he told CTV News. “It’s a policy split within that party and it’s not a good look.”

It’s not only political scientists and social media pundits who say the provincial plan has been short on clarity.  

NO WARNING OR DETAILS

Many in the hospitality industry say the latest Kenney promise came without warning or details. 

Alberta Hospitality Association president Ernie Tsu says he hasn’t yet been told how Alberta plans to crack down on out-of-household diners. 

“It’s going to be up to the government to help us define this (rule) and write it properly so that it’s clear cut for both hospitality and, more importantly, the public,” he said. 

Tsu’s bar, Trolley 5, is just one that has internally decided to lower table capacity from the provincially-allowed six to three or four. 

He believes it’ll give staff a better opportunity to check if diners are part of the same house or cohort. 

But he hopes his team has additional help with enforcement. 

“It’s unfair to staff,” he said. “Now are we replacing the 17-year-old student that needs the hours with security?”

More details are expected on that front on Monday, according to Tsu. 

Until then, those in the industry say some clarity would be appreciated as they head into the weekend.

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