Published:December 10, 2021
Alberta will relax COVID-19 restrictions next week so more people can gather together for Christmas, Premier Jason Kenney said.
Kenney detailed his own Christmas plans Friday, which he said would not comply if he left current fourth-wave restrictions in place.
“I’ll be gathering with three family members, we’re all fully vaccinated, come from three households, only four people. But we wouldn’t be able to do that based on the current rules,” he said at a hospital announcement in Calgary.
Kenney didn’t detail the changes, but said they would be a “modest, common sense relaxation.”
He promised an announcement on Tuesday, when Alberta’s current state of emergency is set to expire.
The province had 70 COVID-19 patients in ICU on Wednesday, down from 266 on Sept. 28.
The premier said he wants to see the total number of ICU admissions fall below 173. There were 183 patients in the ICU as of Monday, according to provincial data.
“That number is important, because that allows us to go to 100 per cent of surgical capacity. We no longer have to set aside beds for COVID patients, for example,” he said.
Kenney said the province needs to be cautious with the Omicron variant now circulating, but said he wants Albertans to be able to celebrate the holidays.
“I don’t want to create a situation where we have millions of Albertans violating the rules, when we’re not in a current emergency situation,” he said.
“We do expect there will be future waves. There will be a fifth wave at some point.”
The premier applauded citizens for following rules that helped to flatten the fourth wave of infections, and said he expects “voluntary compliance” from Albertans on the new plan.
“We’re not a police state. Unlike Australia and other places, we are not going to put a cop on every corner to check people’s papers,” he said.
Kenney and health officials in Alberta have been previously criticized for relaxing restrictions too soon, and the premier apologized in September for moving the province from a pandemic to an endemic response.