Premier Jason Kenney is offering a $100 gift card to those over 18 who get their first or second dose of vaccination.
Soaring COVID-19 cases fuelled by the Delta variant are threatening to swamp hospitals once again and to help curb the spread, the government announced new measures Friday.
“COVID-19 is surging once again in Alberta,” Kenney said in his opening remarks.
“The Delta variant of COVID-19 is causing concerning rises in hospitalizations in our province, almost entirely among unvaccinated Albertans.”
The government is reinstating a provincewide mask mandate in all indoor public spaces and workplaces starting Saturday, except in classrooms, where decisions are being left to local school boards.
All licensed bars, restaurants, and pubs must stop alcohol sales by 10 p.m. starting Saturday and all businesses are being asked to rethink having staff return to work.
The one-time incentive of $100 is for all Albertans age 18 or older who receive a first or second dose of vaccine between Sept. 3 and Oct. 14.
Albertans are also being asked to limit in-person contacts. The province strongly recommends that unvaccinated Albertans limit their indoor social gatherings to close contacts of only two cohort families up to a maximum of 10 people.
The province also released its highly anticipated COVID-19 modelling Friday.
That data shows intensive care unit patients could possibly peak at around 180 in a medium-case scenario, although if accelerating trends continue, numbers could reach or exceed the currently projected high-case scenario at 290.
It also shows that COVID-19 daily cases could peak around 1,900 if provincial measures are not effective.
Other hospitalizations (non-ICU) are currently trending toward the high-case scenario, with a potential peak of 700 in the next several weeks.
If the high scenario peaks are reached, this would mean a greater combined impact on the acute care system than in all previous waves, and if changes in transmission cause greater spread, these numbers could be exceeded.
“We are at risk of exceeding our ICU capacity if we do not make changes to our approach,” said chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw on Friday.
Kenney said people between the ages of 20-59 who are unvaccinated have 50-60 times higher risk of hospitalization than those who are vaccinated.
“I’m going to be blunt, if you are unvaccinated it is urgent that you protect yourself, our hospitals and our entire community by getting this miracle of modern medicine, as soon as possible,” he said.
The premier was emphatic in his plea for Albertans to get vaccinated.
“This is essentially now a crisis of the unvaccinated. The overwhelming majority of severe cases and outcomes that are putting pressure on our hospitals are occurring in unvaccinated people,” he said.
– With files from The Canadian Press