Coronavirus: Are Edmonton businesses following requests to limit large gatherings?

As Alberta tries to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus amid a pandemic, the provincial government has implemented restrictions on large gatherings that could result in further transmission of the illness. But are the restrictions being followed by businesses in Alberta’s capital? And are they being enforced?

The answer to both of those questions, at least on the day after Alberta declared a public health emergency over the COVID-19 crisis, appears to be yes for the most part so far.

“After the provincial state of emergency announcement yesterday, teams of city bylaw and peace officers set out to assess compliance,” Mary Sturgeon, the City of Edmonton’s branch manager of reputation and brand communications and engagement, said in an email to Global News on Wednesday.

“Teams began in the main entertainment zones (Jasper Avenue and Whyte Avenue) and then made their way throughout the city, checking compliance along their route, focusing on areas with a high concentration of businesses.”

Sturgeon said that on Tuesday night, these checks concluded that 99 per cent of businesses had followed the request by provincial officials.

She noted that over 120 businesses were checked. On these patrols, enforcement officers reported bars and nightclubs were closed, sit-down restaurants were following the new capacity restrictions and some coffeeshops were only using their drive-thru windows.

They also found casinos had followed orders to close, and gyms and children’s play areas were also found to be closed.

“Teams did come across a couple of businesses that were unaware of the state of emergency, and these businesses instantly shut their doors to patrons after speaking with the officers,” Sturgeon said. “Follow up with each was done today.

“During these inspections and conversations with restaurants, educational materials were distributed which outlined the directions provided by the Alberta government.”

Aggressive new health measures being taken by the government to address the pandemic have ordered Albertans not to go to bars and nightclubs where minors are prohibited by law.

“Sit-down restaurants, cafes, coffee shops, food courts and other food-serving facilities, including those with minors-allowed liquor license, are limited to 50 per cent capacity to a maximum of 50 people,” the government says.

A ban on mass gatherings of 50 people or more also applies to conferences, worship gatherings and family events such as weddings and funerals but not grocery stores, shopping centres, health care facilities, airports, the legislature and other essential services.

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Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

Health officials say the risk is low for Canadians but warn this could change quickly. They caution against all international travel. Returning travellers are asked to self-isolate for 14 days in case they develop symptoms and to prevent spreading the virus to others.

Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.

To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. And if you get sick, stay at home.

For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, click here.

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