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EDMONTON – Alberta opposition says government of Prime Minister Jason Kenney must start showing its hand if it is to ensure public support for targeted health restrictions against COVID-19

NDP health critic David Shepherd says the public does not understand the reasons and the evidence behind decisions to close some businesses but not others

“Jason Kenney keeps Albertans in the dark,” Shepherd said on Friday “We don’t know why they chose these particular companies

“If this Prime Minister does not take seriously (enough) his willingness to communicate openly and honestly with the people of Alberta, then we are going to get what we have now, where we have it.” unfortunately too little a level of conformity of even the most basic things “

COVID-19 cases have increased alarmingly for weeks in Alberta Workload has overtaken contact tracing and strained the health care system

Alberta set sobering one-day record on Friday with 1,155 new cases There were 310 people in hospital, including 58 in intensive care, and 11 new deaths for a total of 462

Since contact tracing can’t keep pace, officials don’t know where 82% of the 10,655 active infections were acquired

Kenney announced tighter health restrictions a week ago affecting parts of communities and the economy Restaurants and retailers, schools and places of worship remain open with some restrictions

Large gymnasiums and recreation centers also remain open, but fitness studios and indoor team sports and group art performances were closed for two weeks in Edmonton, Calgary, Lethbridge, Red Deer , Fort McMurray and Grande Prairie

Areas where cases are of high concern – including Edmonton, Calgary and surrounding areas – have a 15-person limit for public gatherings and a 50-person limit for weddings and funerals The bars and restaurants that serve as alcohol must stop at 10 pm and close an hour later

Province presented rationale for changes Kenney said few cases came from dining inside, but instituted the alcoholic beverage deadline because some restaurants were breaking the rules and turning into late night party zones, super-spread

He also said that gatherings and housekeeping meetings are responsible for 40% of new cases

Some fitness studios said this week that they have gone above and beyond to keep COVID-19 free and they don’t understand why they are now being targeted

The government says the ban on team sports was intended to avoid close contact between participants, but no similar ban has been put in place for worships.The province has asked that faith-based gatherings be limited to a third of the capacity, but this remains voluntary

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr Deena Hinshaw said earlier this week she was upset to learn that some sports teams are leaving towns to continue playing and that some fitness studios are bending the rules by replacing instructors live by videos

On Thursday, NDP critic Rod Loyola asked Health Minister Tyler Shandro for evidence underlying last week’s orders, suggesting they appear arbitrary and unfair

“These (fitness) club owners aren’t against public health orders, but they don’t deserve to be shut down just to make this prime minister appear to be taking COVID-19 seriously,” Loyola said

“What evidence do you have to shut them down on other businesses?” How many cases were linked to these studios and how many cases will this order prevent? “

Shandro urged Loyola to check with Hinshaw as the closure of the fitness studio was on his recommendation: “There have been three super-spreader events that have occurred in group fitness that was the concern the Dr Hinshaw had “

Hinshaw said on Friday that decisions are made based on evidence in Alberta and elsewhere on situations that have become or have the potential to become super-spreaders

“I have generally talked about the reasons, but maybe we need to make specific information available,” she said

“If it could be useful for people then we can certainly work to make it”

Shepherd also renewed a call for the government to release updated modeling data on where COVID-19 is in Alberta The latest modeling came out in the spring

He also renewed a call for Alberta to make masks mandatory in all indoor public spaces in areas with high caseloads

The province has a patchwork of mask-wearing rules dictated by municipalities and is the only one that does not have a provincial directive

Hinshaw said the government is still debating whether the mandatory masks make sense as a public health measure and whether they will work in the “Alberta context”, but no decision has been made

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Lockdown Alberta

News from the world – CA – Government of Alberta risks public acceptance of COVID-19 by withholding information: Opposition

Source: https://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2020/11/20/alberta-government-risks-public-buy-in-on-covid-19-by-withholding-info-opposition.html