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(L-R) Photo of Dr. Deena Hinshaw and Premier Jason Kenney. // Photo courtesy of the Government of Alberta/Flickr.

Nov. 24 COVID-19 update: U of C details and provincial mandates

By Nikayla Goddard, November 24 2020—

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney and chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw announced the enactment of the second state of COVID-19 public health emergency.

Among some of the measures introduced, effective immediately, there are no indoor social gatherings and outdoor social gatherings are limited to ten people. No sports at any level are to take place, though groups can apply for exemptions if they have “well-developed COVID safety plans.” Faith-based groups and religious gathering recommendations now have mandatory rules that will be enforced, retail and businesses will remain open with some restrictions based on capacity. Hair salons and other personal service businesses can operate on an appointment-only basis. There were no direct announcements made in regard to universities, but they will be affected by some of the new mandates.

Kenney cited social gatherings as the “key reason why COVID-19 is winning,” and as such, indoor social gatherings are not permitted under any circumstances, meaning any university or club events will not be taking place. Work and support group meetings are not social gatherings, but attendance should be limited and public health measures followed. Outdoor social gatherings are limited to ten people, must not have an indoor component and attendees must still maintain social distancing measures. This includes backyard gatherings that require movement in/out of homes. Rule-breakers will be subject to fines.

Funerals and weddings are limited to 10 attendees, and a maximum of one-third normal attendance while wearing a mask is in place for places of worship. Employers are encouraged to work from home. Students in grades 7-12 will be moving to at-home learning as of Nov. 30 but will resume in-person classes Jan. 11. Students through K-6 will continue in-person learning until Dec. 18, after which they will move to online learning until Jan. 8.

Businesses that are being closed entirely include banquet halls, conference centres, trade shows, auditoria and concert venues, non-approved/licensed markets, community centres, children’s play places or indoor playgrounds and all levels of sport (professional, semi-professional, junior, collegiate/university and amateur). Restaurants, bars, pubs and lounges will be open with restrictions and most retail businesses may remain open with capacity limited to 25 per cent of the occupancy set under the Alberta Fire Code.

Prior to the 4:30 p.m. announcement on Nov. 24, the University of Calgary released the following statement:

“We will review and assess details of the latest provincial announcement before making decisions concerning any new measures. We will notify the campus community of any potential changes via our COVID-19 newsletter and UCalgary homepage.”

The total number of positive COVID-19 cases associated with the University of Calgary between Sept. 1 and Nov. 24 is 46, and the total number of positive COVID-19 associated with the University of Calgary for the month of November is 37. Several of these cases stem from an outbreak that has spread within the Taylor Institute. When asked why these connected cases have not been deemed an official outbreak, the University of Calgary responded, “Alberta Health Services has advised us that they continue to monitor the situation involving the Taylor Institute but are not declaring it an outbreak. This is due to the high likelihood that the cases were related to an off-campus social activity and not likely through classroom transmission.”

This semester, the University of Calgary aimed to have approximately 30 per cent of the campus population on campus at any given time. Currently, the winter term is projected to be from 20 per cent to 30 per cent in-person learning.

The university also said, “Additionally, for the winter term, academic units will be planning their face-to-face course components within a 30-student maximum cap as a guideline, with some possible exceptions.” 

Further updates that affect students include the Undergraduate Research Symposium taking place online this year. On Nov. 26 at 6 p.m., the university is hosting Convocation for all February, June and November 2020 graduates. More information can be found here. In addition, a motion in the House of Commons to extend a pause on student loan repayments passed unanimously.

Regular UCalgary updates can be found on their website.

For more information on provincial guidelines and the new Nov. 24 update, check out the government of Alberta website.

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