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Gathering restrictions in Alberta are unlikely to be removed for the holidays: Hinshaw

Farm decorated with Christmas lights. (iStock Photo)

The holidays are just around the corner and that means you’ll likely be spending time gathered with extended family. However, under current public health orders in Alberta, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to get everyone in one room.

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw says rules around gathering indoors will probably stick around for the next few weeks.

“I think as we approach the holiday season, there are many types of holidays over the next month where people want to spend time with family and friends,” Hinshaw says. “I think we need to look at a balance, again, we need to minimize the direct harms from COVID, we also need to minimize the harms of the restrictions.”

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Right now, the rules state that you’re only allowed one other household besides your own for indoor gatherings; that’s two households in all. The total number of people from those two households are capped at 10, and each individual needs to be fully vaccinated. Unvaccinated people who are eligible for the shots are not allowed to gather indoors with anyone, as it goes against public health measures.

“We know that the measures we currently have in place have been effective at slowing spread,” Hinshaw says.

However, she admits some details remain unclear as we navigate the continuing pandemic, along with a new variant of concern.

“We don’t know though, what is ‘that number’ that will give us the ability to ease all of our restrictions.”

Alberta’s top doctor is urging people to keep cautious as the holidays approach, saying the pandemic is far from over.

“As always, whether you are vaccinated or not, please continue to follow all public health measures currently in place,” Hinshaw says. “Wear a mask in all indoor public places, keep your gatherings small and outdoors if possible.”

If you do decide to gather with loved ones outdoors, you are allowed double the amount of people — 20 — provided you keep your distance.