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Alberta announces updated COVID-19 restrictions

COVID-19 Update
By Mike Henry

The Government of Alberta announced new public health measures on Tuesday December 8, 2020, updating previous restrictions announced on November 24, 2020. The further enhanced measures will be in place through the holiday season, until at least January 12, 2021.

Workplaces and learning centres

Effective immediately, masks are mandatory province-wide in all indoor public places, places of worship, and all indoor workplaces and facilities. Masks are not mandatory when working alone in an office, in a safely distanced cubicle, or with a physical barrier in place.

Working from home is mandatory effective December 13, 2020, unless the employer requires a physical presence for "operational effectiveness".

No further changes have been made to the measures regarding schooling and childcare previously announced on November 24, 2020.

Business and service restrictions

Effective December 13, 2020, heightened restrictions will apply to businesses throughout the province.

Open with restrictions

  • Retail services must reduce capacity to 15% of fire code occupancy, or a minimum of 5 customers. Retail services include retail businesses operating within a shopping centre or mall, pet stores, grocery stores, pharmacies, clothing stores, computer stores, liquor and cannabis stores, and markets. Curbside pickup, delivery, and online services are encouraged.
  • Restaurants, bars, pubs, lounges, and cafes are closed for in-person service, though takeout and delivery are allowed.
  • Hotels, motels, and lodges may remain open, but no spa, pool, or gym access will be permitted. Meals will be restricted to room service only.
  • Social services may remain open for in-person service, including social, protective or emergency services, shelters, and not-for-profit community, religious, and soup kitchens.


The following businesses must close until at least January 12, 2021:

  • all entertainment businesses including casinos, bingo halls, bowling alleys, art galleries, and theatres;
  • all indoor recreation facilities including gyms and studios, fitness and recreation centres, spas, pools, indoor rinks and arenas, and community centres;
  • personal services including hair salons and barbers, tattoo and piercing studios, esthetics, manicures, and cosmetic services and body treatments; and
  • wellness services including massage therapy, flotation tanks, reflexology, and colonic irrigation.

Open by appointment only

  • Regulated health services may remain open by appointment only, including physicians, dentists, physical therapists, and optometrists.
  • Professional services may remain open by appointment only, including lawyers, mediators, accountants, and photographers.

Social gatherings

Effective immediately, all public and private social gatherings of any kind are prohibited. All outdoor social gatherings, previously capped at 10 attendees, are forbidden under the new measures, along with prohibitions on all indoor gatherings previously announced. This restriction will be enforced with $1,000 fines. These measures do not apply to co-parenting arrangements, service visits from caregivers, health or childcare providers, home maintenance and repairs, and mutual support group meetings.

Close contacts are limited to household members only, while those that live alone can have up to 2 close contacts.

Effective December 13, 2020, faith services will be limited to 15% of fire code occupancy for in-person attendance. Other previous restrictions on faith services remain in effect.

Out-of-town travel and visitors

The Government of Alberta is discouraging all out-of-town travel at this time. Individuals belonging to a household (for example, children returning home from post-secondary education) will be permitted to return to the household. Visitors and those without a household in Alberta must not stay in other people's homes while the restrictions are in place.

Performance, sport, and physical activities

Further restrictions on performance activities will come into effect on December 13, 2020, building on the previous measures, which will remain in place until then. Performance activities include dancing, singing, theatre, and playing wind instruments.

Outdoor rehearsals are permitted up to a maximum of 10 people, though performances with audiences are forbidden. No indoor group performances are permitted, nor are rehearsals involving 2 or more individuals. Physical education, band, and drama classes may continue in school settings, though all performances and assemblies are not permitted.

Group physical activities including team sports, fitness classes and training sessions are prohibited, with some exceptions. Outdoor group physical activity must be limited to 10 people, with physical distancing measures in place. Indoor group physical activities are prohibited unless the group involves members of the same household, or is conducted as part of a school or post-secondary education program. One-to-one personal training is also not permitted.

Outdoor recreation is permitted, but facilities with indoor spaces except for washrooms will be closed.