On Wednesday, the government of Alberta declared a state of public health emergency and announced several new COVID-19 restrictions that come into effect September 16 and September 20, 2021.
These COVID-19 restrictions consist of temporary measures being put in place to reduce the transmission and spread of COVID-19 and to protect the public health system. Alberta businesses must choose to either: (1) comply with these temporary measures, called the “Restriction Exemption Program” (the “RE Program”) starting September 20, 2021; or (2) follow the Business Capacity and Operating Restrictions (the “Business Restrictions”) outlined on the Alberta government website here.
THE RESTRICTION EXEMPTION PROGRAM
The RE Program being implemented is a form of vaccine passport for discretionary Alberta businesses and events. Businesses choosing to implement the RE Program:
- must continue to follow indoor mandatory masking requirements; and
- are permitted to operate without implementing the Business Restrictions so long as they require people aged 12 and over to show one of the following:
- proof of vaccination; or
- partial vaccination (one dose), with this only being accepted between September 20 and October 25, if received 2 weeks before time of service; or
- full vaccination (two doses), which is required after October 25; or
- proof of a privately-paid negative PCR or rapid test within 72 hours of service (tests from AHS or Alberta Precision Laboratories not allowed); or
- documentation of a medical exemption.
Although businesses are not required to apply for the program, audits and enforcement will occur to ensure rules are being followed.
What are discretionary businesses and events?
Discretionary businesses and events are basically non-essential businesses and events in the Province of Alberta. The RE Program does not apply to:
- businesses or entities that need to be accessed for daily living;
- employees of businesses participating in the program; and
- children under 12.
BUSINESS CAPACITY AND OPERATING RESTRICTIONS
Businesses that choose not to implement the RE Program must follow the Business Restrictions outlined by the Alberta government, effective as of September 16 and September 20, 2021.
For those businesses that chose not to implement the RE Program, these Business Restrictions will apply to: (1) adult (over 18) sport, fitness, recreation and performance activities; (2) youth (under 18) sport, fitness, recreation and performance activities; (3) day and overnight camps; (4) restaurants, cafes, bars, pubs and nightclubs; and (5) indoor and outdoor retail, entertainment and recreation facilities.
The Business Restrictions come into effect either September 16 or September 20, 2021, depending on the category of business. A full list of the applicable Business Restrictions for each category of business can be found here.
MASKS, SCHOOLS AND WORK FROM HOME
The Government also announced new restrictions on masks, schools, and working from home, effective as of September 16. These mandatory measures will apply to Alberta businesses as follows:
- masking and physical distancing are mandatory in all indoor public spaces and workplaces; and
- employees working on location must mask in all indoor work settings, except while alone in work stations; and
- mandatory work-from-home measures are in place unless an employer has determined a physical presence is required for operational effectiveness.
Gathering restrictions were also announced for: (1) indoor and outdoor social gatherings; (2) places of worship; and (3) weddings and funerals, effective September 16 and 20.
Alberta public health orders are legally-enforceable and fines can be issued for violations. Fines for not complying with public health orders have been doubled to $2000.
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If you have a question about Alberta’s new COVID-19 measures, please contact any member of our Employment, Labour and Human Rights team.*This update is intended for general information only on the subject matter and is not to be taken as legal advice.