Premier Jason Kenney enacted tougher measures Tuesday as a way to cut the rising COVID-19 case numbers in the province.
The new measures were implemented two weeks after the premier announced the previous restrictions on Nov. 24.
The new rules are similar to the spring lockdown – restricting restaurants and bars to delivery or takeout and closing recreation centres, libraries, theatres and personal service providers such as hair salons.
We do know measures take time to work, but on Monday afternoon, the chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, confirmed the existing regulations weren’t enough and hence the need of new restrictions.
Of course, the Nov. 24 measures weren’t working.
Because the premier was too late to implement them.
If we knew a second wave was imminent – which provincial officials told us was coming over and over again during the first wave – the province shouldn’t have waited until almost the end of November to put additional restrictions in place.
That was tardy.
Any rules that may have come into effect around fall, could’ve been targeted, and therefore, last a relatively short period of time, until we were out of the woods.
The recent number of active cases has left us lost in the middle of a dense forest.
Acting sooner would have cleared us all by the time December hit, giving Albertans a Christmas they deserve this dreadful year.
That strategy would have especially helped us to protect the provincial economy – something the premier is concerned about.
A province-wide mask mandate could’ve come in much sooner – and not during the ninth month of the pandemic, for instance. Until Tuesday, Alberta had been the only province in Canada without a mandated mask rule.
Instead now, with these tough measures imposed in December, thousands of restaurants across the province are having to limit their services – during the busy holiday season.
Meanwhile, retail businesses are left serving at 15 per cent capacity.
Indoor and outdoor gatherings have been banned limiting Christmas celebrations to one household.
These measures will last for four weeks.
During Tuesday’s news conference, media asked the premier whether he takes responsibility for the latest virus deaths because he didn’t impose restrictions sooner.
The premier said it would be a mistake to draw conclusions at this complicated time.
We can all draw at least one conclusion at this time – Kenney’s behind-schedule response has made him the Christmas Grinch.
At the same conference, Minister of Jobs, Economy and Innovation Doug Schweitzer declared a vaccine is on the way for Albertans.
The truth is not all Albertans will receive the shot until fall of next year. That means, most Albertans will be left following protocols such as mask wearing and hand washing until then.
Going forward, Kenney government needs a proactive approach to COVID-19.
The premier should now focus on ensuring are Albertans get the vaccine shot – especially because Albertans are skeptical. A late-November Angus-Reid poll states one in four Albertans (25 per cent) say they do not plan on getting vaccinated.
That’s a high statistic.
The leader needs to send a clear, health-focused message to his province that touches on people’s fears and concerns over the vaccine.
Mamta Lulla is acting editor of the Red Deer Advocate.