Alberta justice minister to join Dr. Hinshaw at Friday COVID-19 update

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health will be joined by Justice Minister Kaycee Madu for the COVID-19 update Friday afternoon.

Dr. Deena Hinshaw and Madu are set to speak at 3:30 p.m. Their news conference will be streamed live in this post.

Read more: COVID-19: Dr. Deena Hinshaw calls leaked public health meeting recordings a ‘personal betrayal’

On Tuesday, the province declared a state of public health emergency and brought in new restrictions to try to stop the spread of COVID-19.

As of Thursday, 510 Albertans had died in connection with the virus. The contact-tracing system and the health-care system are being overwhelmed, Hinshaw said. There were 383 people in hospital as of Thursday, 84 of whom were in intensive care.

One of the new rules announced Tuesday was a ban all social gatherings in the home, anywhere in the province.

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“If you’re holding indoor social events, they’re now illegal,” Premier Jason Kenney said Tuesday. “That’s pretty astonishing. And those rules will be enforced to our greatest ability.”

Click to play video 'Alberta declares state of public health emergency amid 2nd wave of COVID-19' Alberta declares state of public health emergency amid 2nd wave of COVID-19

Alberta declares state of public health emergency amid 2nd wave of COVID-19

He said peace officers would be given more powers in the coming days and weeks, but did not provide specific details or when those powers would actually come into place.

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Fines for breaking a public health order could range from $1,000 to $100,000.

Read more: COVID-19: Legal expert questions Premier Kenney’s Charter assertions when it comes to health restrictions

“We will be expanding the number of enforcement officers who are designated to enforce public health orders under the public health act,” Kenney said Tuesday.

“We will make a final decision later this week, but likely will include Level 1 and Level 2 peace officers.”

“The focus in general [will be] on increasing the number of peace officers who can levy these fines,” said an emailed statement from Blaise Boehmer, the press secretary for the ministry.

“For example, expanding authorities to certain community peace officers could increase the number of officers who are able to fine by about 600.”

Read more: No clear direction yet on how to enforce Alberta’s new COVID-19 measures: officials

The mayors of both Edmonton and Calgary have said they would like to help with enforcement but require more details — and powers — from the province.“Enforcement remains a key element of success in our COVID-19 response,” Don Iveson said. “I was pleased to hear that the province has heard our desire to assist, and is seriously considering delegating enforcement powers for municipal peace officers to enforce these public health emergency orders.

“It sounds encouraging that the province is going to come through on that delegated authority.”

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Violations of the COVID-19 public health order can be reported to Alberta Health Services online.

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