COVID-19 restrictions will remain in place for another two weeks, Premier Jason Kenney announced Thursday.
In his first media appearance since New Year’s Day, the premier said that the current restrictions will be in place until Jan. 21, with a pledge to give businesses a week of notice before potential reopening.
The premier noted that Alberta leads the country in per capita new cases, active cases and daily fatalities.
“We need to understand that we’ve made progress, but we are far from getting out of this,” Kenney said.
The most recent restrictions were enacted on Dec. 8, with most going into effect on Dec. 12. With those restrictions set to expire on Jan. 12, government officials met this week to make a decision on extending the measures.
Kenney also announced that students from K-12 will return to in-person learning on Monday.
“We need some time to see if testing stabilizes post Christmas and what impact the holidays had on testing. We also need to prioritize reopening schools,” he said.
In his address, the premier apologized for the controversy surrounding several members of his caucus and staff who travelled outside the country over the holidays.
He acknowledged that he did not know several of them had travelled until Jan. 3. Kenney knew of some of the travel plans and at a New Year’s Day conference, he had said they weren’t going to face any disciplinary action.
“It points to a breakdown of discipline in this caucus. That has to change and it will change,” Kenney said Thursday, adding he heard very clearly from Albertans about their anger and disappointment over those who left the country over the holidays.
The province reported an additional 968 COVID-19 cases and 24 COVID-deaths Thursday, bringing the death toll to 1,217.
A man in his 50s from Central zone died on Jan. 5.
Alberta has added nearly 200 deaths from the virus since the start of the new year.
The province now has 13,200 active cases Thursday and completed 14,833 COVID-19 tests over the past 24 hours, for a 6.4 per cent positivity rate.
There are also 871 people in hospital, including 139 in the ICU.
Alberta’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said hospitalizations and ICU numbers are nearly 10-times what they were before Thanksgiving.
She added that the province hasn’t yet seen the full impact of the virus and its spread over the Christmas holidays.
“We will be closely monitoring the spread over the coming weeks to determine whether it is safe to relax our current approach,” he said.
Central zone sits at 1,418 COVID-19 cases, with 97 people in hospital and 17 in the ICU.
Red Deer dropped to 252 active cases of the virus, down from 256 Wednesday. Red Deer County has 56 active COVID-19 cases and Lacombe County sits at 34 active.
Lacombe has 42 active cases of COVID-19, Sylvan Lake has 36 active and Olds has 37 active. Mountain View County has 33 active cases, Kneehill County has 11 and Clearwater County has 39 active.
Camrose sits at 64 active and Camrose County is at 17 active. The County of Wetaskiwin, Ponoka County and Wetaskiwin have 577 active cases combined.
The premier also said he will announce additional news on COVID-19 vaccines Friday.