Much like the United States, Canada has found itself in the midst of another resurgence in cases of COVID-19 — and like clockwork, government officials are jumping in to “help.”
As part of that effort, the province of Alberta just moved to impose harsh restrictions on businesses and individuals, albeit with an offer that if they get vaccinated for the coronavirus, they can be exempt from the rules, as Canada’s CTV in Calgary reported.
Canada cracks down
Borrowing divisive language from U.S. President Joe Biden, Alberta Premier Jason Kenney appeared to blame the strict new measures on a “crisis of the unvaccinated.”
“Unless we slow transmission [of COVID-19], particularly among unvaccinated Albertans, we simply will not be able to provide adequate care to the sick based on current trends,” Kenney said, according to CTV.
“I do not say this to stigmatize people,” he added, “but we all need to understand that the decision not to get vaccinated is not just a personal choice, it has real consequences for our whole society and for our ability of our hospitals to cope.”
Those remarks came Wednesday as Kenney, joined by Health Minister Tyler Shandro, declared a public health emergency and laid out a plethora of new restrictions on people and businesses.
Some of these restrictions, the officials explained, can be avoided if businesses join what is known as the Restrictions Exemption Program, which would require patrons to provide proof of vaccination or a recent negative coronavirus test.
Harsh new restrictions
A government website for Alberta provided all of the details about the new restrictions, which began to go into effect on Thursday. Part of those rules includes allowing just 10 vaccinated people to gather together indoors — the unvaccinated are banned entirely — and limiting outdoor gatherings to no more than 200.
Likewise, all indoor dining has been prohibited, and outdoor dining has been limited to no more than six individuals at a table.
Indoor retail and entertainment locations, along with houses of worship, are meanwhile limited to one-third occupancy and must comply with masking and distancing regulations.
Notably, Kenney had previously expressed opposition to requiring a type of “vaccine passport” for Albertans who want to get back to some semblance of normalcy in the wake of COVID-19, citing privacy rights, according to the CBC. But he changed his tune as he announced the new restrictions.
“The government’s first obligation must be to avoid large numbers of preventable deaths. We must deal with the reality that we are facing. We cannot wish it away. Morally, ethically and legally, the protection of life must be our paramount concern,” he said. “[W]ith unvaccinated patients overwhelming our hospitals, this is now the only responsible choice that we have.”