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‘A plan is in place’: Alberta to begin enforcing social distancing

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The Alberta government is set to announce new rules and enforcement this week around COVID-19 social distancing and isolation.

On Saturday, deputy chief medical officer Dr. Marcia Johnson said the province has received reports of people not following advice to stay in, or practise social distancing.

“A plan is in place and will be starting to roll out over the next week that will allow public health inspectors to monitor large groups and restaurants and businesses,” she said.

“There’s also power being provided to the police to deal with, through fines I believe, people that might not be following the recommendations.”

Several provinces have mandated travel restrictions, saying anyone who has travelled must self-isolate for 14 days.

READ MORE: Alberta laying groundwork for enforcement during coronavirus health emergency

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Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Quebec and Ontario have already put measures in place to allow police to fine and arrest people who aren’t complying with new rules aimed at controlling the spread of the novel coronavirus in Canada.

The enforcements vary: In Saskatchewan, the province said it will fine those who have travelled but still go out with a $2,000 fine.

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In Manitoba, police can fine up to $50,000 to individuals, and people can face up to six months in jail.

In Quebec City this week, police arrested a woman who was infected with the virus but was walking around outside after being mandated to stay indoors.

In Ontario the provincial police issued a notice Friday warning people that they could face fines of $750 if they defy the “expert advice provided by the chief medical officer of health.”

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READ MORE: Coronavirus: Provinces say fines, arrests face people who don’t distance, self-isolate

Alberta’s chief medical officer said that the province is “counting on people” to do the right thing and follow directions from health officials. However, she added that there needs to be rules in place for those who are resisting the change.

“People are asked to do something that’s difficult, and everybody wants to do the best they can. But there are some that don’t always go along with the restrictions.

“It is nice to have a mechanism to nudge the reluctant people towards keeping all our communities safe.”

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Johnson said anyone who is not under restrictions due to symptoms or travel can still go outside, but they should remain at a distance from one another.

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On Sunday the province announced 33 new cases of COVID-19 in the province, bringing the total to 259. It’s believed at least 16 of the cases in Alberta are from community transmission.

Alberta Health said Saturday it has not planned a news conference update for Sunday, but will be providing details on new cases to media. A news conference is set for Monday.

READ MORE: COVID-19 cases in Alberta now at 226; 16 suspected to be community transmission

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Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.

To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. And if you get sick, stay at home.

For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, click here.

–With a file from The Canadian Press