Weighing the differences between Alberta and B.C.’s COVID-19 rules

CALGARY — While some people are railing against the UCP government’s newly-installed restrictions on businesses and gatherings in Alberta, others are saying the limits don’t go far enough.

However, when you look at what was put in place for our western neighbours, B.C. appears to be taking a bit of a harder line in some areas but, in others, Alberta has opted for a firmer hand.

When B.C.’s top doctor Bonnie Henry announced that province’s newest restrictions in certain regions on Nov. 7, they included restrictions on social gatherings, especially those that occur within the home. B.C. health authorities also restricted wedding and funeral services to occur among members of an immediate household.

During Thursday’s announcement, Jason Kenney did announce formal limits on gatherings in specific areas of the province and they did include a prohibition on social gatherings inside homes.

However, when it comes to wedding and funeral services and their accompanying receptions, the two provinces diverge.

Alberta says a 50-person limit is in place for those services and a 15-person limit on receptions no matter if they occur indoors or outdoors. Meanwhile, B.C. said services can take place under similar restrictions, but no receptions of any kind are allowed.

“I know this is hard. I know we don’t want to have to be doing this,” she said last Saturday. “This is a time-limited order. But this is what we need to do now.”

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Worship services are one area where Alberta appears to have stricter conditions. In the new guidelines, such services are limited to one-third their regular capacity.

“This measure will help limit exposure at these activities, reducing outbreaks and protecting vulnerable members who attend,” Alberta Health’s website reads.

According to B.C.’s current health restrictions, all worship services are allowed to continue provided they maintain all COVID-19 protocols.

Kenney also announced restrictions on group physical activities Thursday and the guidelines were almost the same as what B.C. released nearly a week earlier.

Gyms in both provinces are not allowed to hold spin classes, yoga, group fitness, dance classes or any kind of team sport activity where physical distancing cannot be maintained, provided they are in particular areas of the province.

Another part of B.C.’s restrictions had to do with travel for non-essential reasons. While Henry said it was not a rule, it was a “recommendation in the very strongest terms.”

Under the restriction, B.C. residents are advised to consider travel plans outside the Vancouver Coastal Health and Fraser Health regions only for essential reasons.

Alberta, for the entirety of the pandemic, has never put any formal restrictions on the travel plans of residents.

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While most provincial governments are in the same boat when it comes to the pandemic response, Alberta Health says there is no formal working relationship with its counterparts in B.C.

However, officials do keep a close eye on the guidelines of all the other provinces.

“We are not working with B.C. but are monitoring the experiences in other jurisdictions, as well as the data on COVID-19 in Alberta,” said Tom McMillan, assistant director of communications for Alberta Health.

On Friday, Alberta reported 902 new cases of COVID-19, bringing its total active cases to 8,593.

B.C. announced 617 new cases of the illness, a daily record for that province. There are 5,579 active coronavirus cases in B.C.

The additional restrictions in B.C. are scheduled to remain in effect until Nov. 23 while Alberta’s are expected to be dropped on the 27th.

(With files from CTV News Vancouver)

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