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Masks mandatory for RVC facilities as state of emergency declared

As the province declared a public state of health emergency, Rocky View County (RVC) municipalities in the area are preparing for the new restrictions.
Rocky View County announced face masks are now mandatory inside all County facilties after new restrictionns were announced by the province on Nov. 24. Photo by Jordan Stricker/Rocky View Weekly

Following the Alberta government's declaration of a state of public health emergency, Rocky View County (RVC) and other regional municipalities are under new restrictions.

Although the County does not have a mask bylaw, masks are now mandatory inside all County facilities, according to County Hall is open to the public, but appointments are recommended.

As of Nov. 26, RVC had recorded 122 active cases of COVID-19, with an active case rate of 281 per population of 100,000. The County's situation remained classified as "enhanced".

At that time, Chestermere had 67 active cases and Cochrane had 29 active cases. Both communities were classified as enhanced, with mask bylaws in effect.

Chestermere Lake Middle School and RancheView School in Cochrane remained under "watch" with an outbreak of five or more cases, while Chestermere High School had been added to the Alberta government's school status map, listed as "open" with two to four cases. Cochrane High School and the Edge School, in Springbank, were also listed as open.

With the prevalence of COVID-19 continuing to escalate province-wide, Premier Jason Kenney enacted a second state of public health emergency Nov. 24 and announced a number of new restrictions meant to prevent further spread. Kenney said the restrictions would be in effect for three weeks and will be re-evaluated in mid-December.

“As [chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw] has said, there’s no one single way through this pandemic,” Kenney said during a press conference watched by more than 100,000 Albertans. “Any decision impacts the lives of our friends and neighbours.”

As per Kenney’s announcement, indoor social gatherings are now banned in Alberta, while outdoor gatherings are limited to 10 people. The restrictions apply to wedding ceremonies and funerals. He added social gatherings are the largest known source of transmission.

“Many people may think a family dinner or get together with friends is no big deal and just normal,” he said. “We don’t imagine when we gather as a family that people will be transmitting a virus like this, but it is the key reason why COVID-19 is winning.”

Faith-based gatherings now face a mandatory limit of one-third capacity in communities of the province under “enhanced” status, while masks are mandatory for indoor workspaces in the same areas. 

The restrictions will also impact schools. According to Kenney, students in grades 7 to 12 will transition back to at-home learning from Dec. 1 to 18, and students will return to in-school classes Jan. 11, 2021. 

Kenney said some businesses must close for in-person service, including banquet halls, conference centres, trade shows, auditoriums, concert venues and children’s play places.

Most retail businesses may remain open with a 25 per cent capacity limit, Kenney said. Restaurants and bars are able to offer in-person dining with 25 per cent capacity and a maximum of six people from the same immediate household at a table. Movement is not allowed between tables.

Hair salons, personal wellness services, hotels and professional services will be restricted to operating on an appointment-only basis, he added, and must follow all public health guidelines in place.

Entertainment services such as casinos, movie theatres, museums, libraries, indoor entertainment centres and recreational facilities must also operate under the 25 per cent threshold.

Health Minister Tyler Shandro said Alberta peace officers will have the authority to enforce the new restrictions. Violations can result in fines up to $1,000, which can increase to $100,000 through the court system.