Outdoor gatherings limit rises to 50 people in Alberta ahead of long weekend
Alberta’s limit on outdoor gatherings has been expanded to 50 people just in time for the May long weekend.
Chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw announced the relaxing of the previous 15 person gathering restriction Friday and said the decision was made after considering a number of factors including recent changes to the number of people allowed at indoor gatherings such as places of worship. As of Thursday, one third of the typical worship attendance or 50 people, whichever is smaller, can attend a service.
The limit for indoor gatherings, however, remains at 15 people unless otherwise specified by the province. In addition to places of worship, exemptions have also been made for restaurants, which are permitted to operate at 50 per cent capacity with no more than six patrons per table.
“We’ve been having conversations about how we can make sure we’re balancing both the need to protect Albertans from the spread of the virus along with the need to make sure that Albertans have the supports that they need for health in all aspects of their lives,” Hinshaw said at her daily COVID 19 update.
“We know that outdoor recreation and being outside in well ventilated open spaces that there can be less of a risk in those contexts as long as people are following the guidelines.”
The expanded limit applies to the entire province, however Hinshaw said people still need to maintain a physical distance of two metres, follow proper hygiene practices and avoid sharing food or drinks because that has been linked to transmission of the virus.
Ahead of the long weekend, the province recorded 58 new COVID 19 cases. There have now been a total of 6,515 cases, including 1,073 cases and 5,317 recoveries. Sixty two people have been hospitalized, including nine in intensive care units.
## ## There were four additional deaths, all in continuing care facilities in the Calgary zone. The death toll now stands at 125 people.
Hinshaw said public health officials will be carefully monitoring for potential spikes in case numbers after the long weekend.
“This is a bit of a litmus test. And we’ll be able to see in one to two weeks time how this long weekend impacted the spread of this virus. It’s still with us it hasn’t gone away,” Hinshaw said.
She recommended Albertans avoid travelling outside the province and said people should limit stops for food and gas while travelling to a campground or cabin.
Hinshaw also provided an update on asymptomatic testing rolled out in Calgary this week. She said 50 cases of COVID 19 were reported with having no symptoms, out of about 1,500 tests completed.
“It is important to note first of all, that I do not have information on how many of these are asymptomatic close contacts of confirmed cases and how many have no know exposures,” Hinshaw said.
“Sometimes on further reflection, those who initially report no symptoms do identify mild symptoms that they may have had earlier.”
Full investigations have not yet been completed on all of the cases. More information is expected next week, but these early results show the asymptomatic testing is helping identify additional cases, Hinshaw said.
Meanwhile, Hinshaw will be scaling back her media availabilities going forward. Next week she will present COVID 19 updates on Tuesday and Thursday, while the following week the updates will occur on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
In Canada, there are 74,602 confirmed cases of COVID 19 and 5,562deaths, the latest numbers from theGovernment of Canadashow. Globally, there are 4,347,935 confirmed cases and 297,241deaths according to theWorld Health Organization.