The Alberta government announced on Wednesday it is loosening some COVID-19 restrictions in time for some of the winter holidays, but what exactly does that mean for your favourite holiday activities?
Whether it’s dinner with your family, seeing a Christmas show or volunteering at a local charity, here is what is and isn’t allowed in Alberta under the current COVID-19 restrictions.
For many people, the most important part of the holidays is being able to gather with family and friends. Last year, no private indoor gatherings were permitted. On Wednesday, Premier Jason Kenney announced restrictions around indoor private gatherings would be loosened.
Effective immediately, Albertans can gather in groups of 10 people, from any number of households, regardless of whether everyone is vaccinated. The latest gathering rule had allowed only two households that were fully vaccinated to get together. Children aged 17 and under don’t count toward the total of 10 people.
“We believe this is a very reasonable, a very modest change,” Kenney said.
Outdoor private gatherings are still capped at 20 people, and two metres must be kept between households at all times.
Any previous restrictions in place, including rules under the vaccine passport, remain unchanged.
There was no clear end date given for when these relaxed measures may be changed again, but Kenney said the province would react if a surge in cases threatened the health-care system.
Also on Wednesday, the federal government once again advised against non-essential travel abroad as the Omicron variant continues to spread quickly around the globe.
“We are asking Canadians to be cautious heading into the holiday season,” said Dominic LeBlanc, minister of intergovernmental affairs, infrastructure and communities.
“If you do not have to travel internationally, please do not.”
Those who are fully vaccinated and have the right of entry to Canada, who depart and return within 72 hours of leaving were made exempt from providing a pre-entry COVID-19 negative test result at the end of November.
As well, fully vaccinated travellers who have been in any country other than the United States may be selected for additional testing even with a negative test result prior to re-entry into Canada. Those people will have to quarantine in an appropriate place until their results are received.
Full requirements around international travel are available on the federal government website.
There are no restrictions around domestic travel, though each province will have different restrictions in place around things like gatherings.
Other holiday activities
Restrictions around other holiday activities like volunteering for a local charity or seeing your kids’ Christmas shows haven’t changed.
The restrictions exemption program didn’t change, meaning anywhere that has the vaccine passport in effect will require proof of vaccine through a QR code, proof of medical exemption or a negative privately-paid COVID-19 test.
Albertans are encouraged to inquire with individual facilities on what expectations are before attending.