Alberta to announce new public-health measures amid highest COVID-19 rates in North America
May 04, 2021 2 mins, 14 secs

The Alberta government is set to announce additional COVID-19 restrictions on Tuesday as it struggles to respond to an explosive third wave that has left the province with the highest infection rates in North America.

Premier Jason Kenney said public-health measures are being ignored by too many people in his province, including the organizers of a weekend rodeo that doubled as a protest against the rules.

Kenney, who has taken pride in his government adopting a lighter touch than other provinces when it comes to infection-control measures, warned that Alberta’s health care system would soon become overwhelmed if the current trajectory continued.

“It is as astounding as it is aggravating that 14 months into this, more than 2,000 deaths in Alberta alone, that we still have many people in the province who don’t even believe that COVID is real, who think that it’s a big government conspiracy or hoax,” he said.

“The reason we are at this critical stage of the pandemic in Alberta, with record high daily case counts and intensive care numbers, is precisely because, for whatever reason, too many Albertans are ignoring the rules we have in place.”.

There were 154 people with COVID-19 in intensive care as of Monday, exceeding the peak of the second wave in late December, though Mr.

Kenney’s government loosened public-health measures beginning in February as it permitted restaurants to open, expanded capacity for retailers and churches, opened salons, and allowed more activities in gyms.

Ontario had at least 889 people in intensive care as of Monday, a slight decrease from a day earlier, though the Health Department cautioned that about 10 per cent of hospitals did not submit data over the weekend.

While he maintains that his government was right not to follow other provinces in imposing strict lockdowns, he also argued that Alberta has had tough restrictions throughout the pandemic.

Kenney has focused on rolling out vaccines, which he cast as the province’s ticket out of the pandemic and to the “best summer ever.” The Premier announced that teachers and school support staff would be eligible for vaccines as of Tuesday after weeks of rejecting the idea of giving them priority, and he said the government would lay out the final phase of the vaccine rollout for the general public later this week.

The Opposition New Democrats have urged the government to impose more rigorous public-health measures and on Monday called for stronger fines and penalties for people who break the rules

Joe Vipond, an emergency room doctor who has been a vocal critic of the Alberta government’s handling of the pandemic, said the government should have seen the third wave coming and taken steps to prevent it

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