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COVID-19 Update: Alberta Government Expands Mandatory Province-Wide Restrictions on the Workplace, Business Operations and Social Gatherings

On December 8, 2020, the Alberta Government announced expanded mandatory, province-wide restrictions on the workplace, business operations and social gatherings, which will be in effect until at least January 12, 2021.

Workplace Restrictions

  1. Work from Home

Effective December 13, 2020 “working from home” is mandatory unless the employer requires a physical presence for operational effectiveness.

We will be watching for a related order or further guidelines, including any further guidance from the government on “operational effectiveness” and will update this blog as any becomes available.

  1. Mandatory Masks

Effective immediately, the government has mandated masks in all indoor public spaces and all indoor workplaces across the province, except:

  • working alone at a workstation separated by at least 2 metres apart from all other persons, or persons are separated from a physical barrier that prevents droplets of transmission

  • farming or ranching operations (excluding the operation of a greenhouse, mushroom farm, nursery or sod farm) unless interacting with a member of the public

There are other exceptions as well including where a person is unable to wear a mask due to a mental or physical concern or limitation or where wearing a mask would pose a safety risk to the person wearing it while working.

The government has clarified that mandatory masks in indoor workplaces applies to all employees, customers, visitors, delivery personnel and contractors, and includes any location where employees are present in-person.

Implementing the requirements of mandatory mask use in indoor workplaces should form part of the workplace’s occupational health and safety hazard assessments and safety program.

Businesses to Operate at Reduced Capacity and Closures

Certain businesses will be required, effective December 13, 2020, to reduce capacity, close or limit their in-person access, including:

  • Retail services must reduce customer capacity to the greater of 15% of fire-code occupancy or 5 people.

  • All restaurants, pubs, bars, lounges and cafes are closed to in-person service.

    • Take out, curbside pickup and delivery services are allowed.

  • All casinos, gaming and racing entertainment centres, horse tracks, raceways, bowling alleys, pool halls, legions and private clubs; entertainment businesses and entities; indoor recreation facilities and, personal and wellness services must close.

    • Outdoor recreation is permitted, but facilities with indoor spaces except for washrooms will be closed.

  • Hotels, motels, hunting and fishing lodges may remain open but must follow restrictions including no spa, pool, or gym access, and no in-person dining (room-service only)

  • Faith services are limited to 15% of fire-code occupancy for in-person attendance.

  • Health, social and professional services remain open however:

    • Regulated health services remain open by appointment as long as public health orders and sector guidance is followed.

    • Professional services can remain open by appointment only.

    • Social services can remain open for in-person services.

All businesses remaining open are reminded to follow all current general and sector-specific guidance. Businesses are also reminded about compliance with all relevant public health orders, including Order 25-2020.

Indoor and Outdoor Social Gatherings Restricted

Effective immediately, all indoor and outdoor social gatherings are prohibited.

A private gathering of 10 persons or less may occur at an indoor or outdoor public place only for the purposes of a funeral service or a wedding ceremony. Receptions are prohibited.

Violating public health orders can result in a fine of $1,000 or prosecution up to $100,000 for a first offence.

We at McCarthy Tétrault are continuing to monitor the changes brought by this announcement. Watch our COVID-19 Recovery Hub and our McCarthy Tétrault Employer Advisor Blog for further updates. In the interim, if you are an employer and have any questions about the changes or any other COVID-19 workplace matter, please contact any member of our Labour & Employment Team.




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