Alberta is the most recent Canadian province to enact enhanced public health measures in response to rapidly rising COVID-19 case numbers. These new restrictions are aimed at limiting social gatherings, which are the greatest source of virus transmission in the province.
Effective December 8, 2020, Alberta has imposed the following province-wide restrictions with respect to social gatherings:
- “[a]ll indoor and outdoor social gatherings are prohibited”;
- individuals may only have close contact with other household members, and “[p]eople who live alone can have up to 2 close contacts” outside their households; and
- out-of-town visitors (individuals who do not live in the household or “do not have a household in Alberta”) may not reside in the household, “regardless of where they are coming from.”
Restrictions that affect businesses and workplaces include the following:
- “Masks are mandatory in all … indoor workplaces and facilities” for employees, customers, and visitors, except when “working alone in an office or [when] a safely distanced cubicle or a barrier is in place.”
- Retail services and shopping malls are limited to 15 percent of fire code capacity or 5 customers, whichever is greater (including grocery stores, liquor and cannabis stores, pet supply stores, pharmacies, and hardware stores).
- In-person dining, entertainment facilities, “personal and wellness services,” and “[f]itness and recreation centres” are closed.
Notably, effective December 13, 2020, “[w]orking from home is mandatory unless the employer requires a physical presence for operational effectiveness.”
These restrictions will be enforced with ticketed fines of Can$1,000 and additional fines of up to Can$100,000, if charged and prosecuted with a violation of a public health order. Employers continue to be required to comply with the Alberta Occupational Health and Safety Act in addition to the above restrictions and may also face fines for offenses under that act.
Ogletree Deakins will continue to monitor and report on developments with respect to the COVID-19 pandemic and will post updates in the firm’s Coronavirus (COVID-19) Resource Center as additional information becomes available. Important information for employers is also available via the firm’s webinar and podcast programs.