Note: This post has been updated to reflect the changes made to the Restrictions Exemption Program on September 18, 2021.
Note: This post has been updated to include information on the new Calgary Vaccine Passport Bylaw 65M2021 that came into effect on September 23, 2021.
On September 15, 2021, the Government of Alberta declared a state of public health emergency and introduced new province-wide public health restrictions and a Restrictions Exemption Program. Some of the new restrictions are effective Thursday, September 16, 2021 while others, such as the Restrictions Exemption Program, will begin Monday, September 20, 2021. The Government also announced that printable proof-of-vaccination cards will be available on myHealth Records beginning Sunday, September 19, 2021.
Mandatory work from home
Effective September 16, 2021, employees must work from home unless their employer has determined their physical presence is required for operational effectiveness. Employees who are working on location must be masked in all indoor settings, except while alone in their work station.
Indoor social gatherings
Effective September 16, 2021, private indoor social gatherings for fully-vaccinated individuals will be limited to a maximum of 10 people from the same household and one additional household. Indoor social gatherings are not permitted for vaccine-eligible people who are unvaccinated.
Children under the age of 12 do not have any gathering restrictions, but children 12 years and over who are unvaccinated are prohibited from attending any indoor social gatherings.
Individuals who live alone are permitted to have two close contacts, with distancing between them in indoor public settings.
Outdoor social gatherings
Effective September 16, 2021, outdoor private social gatherings will be limited to a maximum of 200 people, with two metres of physical distancing at all times.
Places of worship
Effective September 16, 2021, places of worship will have their capacity limited to one third of the fire code occupancy. Masks are mandatory and two metres of physical distancing must be maintained between households or two close contacts for those living alone.
Restrictions Exemption Program
Starting September 20, 2021, some businesses will have the option of implementing the Restrictions Exemption Program, which will allow them to operate as usual.
Calgary Vaccine Passport Bylaw 65M2021
In Calgary, the Restrictions Exemption Program is mandatory for all eligible businesses. Calgary’s Vaccine Passport Bylaw 65M2021 came into effect on September 23, 2021 and mandates that all in-scope operators must follow or exceed the program requirements at all times. The bylaw also requires businesses to display signage.
Failure to provide proof of vaccination can result in a penalty of CA$500. Businesses who fail to display the required signage can be penalized CA$200 and permitting a person to enter without proof of vaccine can result in a penalty of CA$500. Higher penalties will be given for subsequent offences within a 12-month period. Complaints of fraudulent vaccine records can be reported to the Calgary Police Service and will be investigated.
The Restrictions Exemption Program does not apply to masking and masks are still required in places that implement the program. Businesses who adopt the Restrictions Exemption Program must ensure that they only service individuals who have provided the business with one of the following:
- Proof of vaccination
- Proof of a privately-paid negative PCR or rapid test within 72 hours of service (tests from Alberta Health Services or Alberta Precision Laboratories are not permitted)
- Documentation of a medical exemption
A period will exist between September 20 and October 25, 2021, where proof of a single dose will be considered acceptable, as long as two weeks have passed since the vaccination.
This program will apply to all Albertans over the age of 12. Businesses do not need to apply for the program but can be audited for compliance. Requirements can be enforced by Alberta Health Services, the Alberta Gaming Liquor & Cannabis Commission and police units. The public can also submit complaints if they believe operators are not in compliance.
The program will not apply to businesses or entities that need to be accessed by the public for daily living purposes, including all retail locations. The program also does not apply to employees, contractors, repair or delivery workers, volunteers or inspectors entering the space for work purposes.
The Government has listed the following businesses, entities and organizers as in-scope operators who are eligible to participate in the Restrictions Exemption Program:
- Casinos, bingo halls, VLT lounges
- Entertainment and recreation centres, such as:
- Bowling, racing entertainment, arcades, billiards halls, other similar entertainment
- Museums, art galleries
- Movie theatres
- Conferences, meeting spaces, halls, and rented space (excluding dwelling units)
- Weddings and funerals held in public facilities where the facility maintains responsibility for adherence to these requirements
- Professional sporting or performance events (spectators)
- Private social events held in public facilities where the facility maintains responsibility for adherence to these requirements
- Recreation and fitness facilities
- Adult recreational sport groups (players/participants)
- Recreational classes and activities (outside physical activity)
- Amenities in hotels and condos
The following businesses, entities and organizations are deemed out-of-scope operators and are ineligible for participation in the Restrictions Exemption Program:
- Events in private dwellings
- Retail and shopping malls
- Food courts
- Workers and employees in/on a worksite for the purpose of their employment
- Schools (kindergarten to grade 12)
- School curriculum based activities
- Accommodations (e.g. hotel)
- Places of worship – for faith services
- Health services
- Personal services
- Wellness services
- Publicly-funded post secondary institutions, including cafeterias and residence common areas (PSIs will fall under a separate and sector-specific exemption)
- First Nations college entities:
- Maskwacis Cultural College
- Old Sun Community College
- Red Crow Community College
- University nuhelot’ine thaiyots’i nistameyimakanak Blue Quills
- Yellowhead Tribal College
For businesses that do not, or are not permitted to, implement the Restrictions Exemption Program, the following mandatory restrictions will take place on September 20, 2021, depending on the nature of their business:
- Restaurants, cafes, bars, pubs and nightclubs: Outdoor dining only with a maximum of six people per table (one household or two close contacts for those living alone). Indoor dining is not permitted. Liquor sales must end at 10 p.m. and consumption must end by 11 p.m.
- Retail, shopping malls and food courts: Retail, shopping malls and food courts are not eligible for the Restrictions Exemption Program as public access is necessary for daily living. Capacity is to be restricted to one third of the fire code occupancy. Attendees must be with household members only, or two close contacts if they live alone. Indoor food courts must close in-person dining. Take out is allowed.
- Indoor entertainment, event and recreation facilities: Capacity will be restricted to one third of the fire code occupancy. Attendees must be with household members only or two close contacts if they live alone.
- Adult indoor sport, fitness, recreation and performance activities: Group classes and activities are not permitted. One-on-one training and solo activities are allowed with three metres of physical distancing. Indoor competitions are paused except where vaccine exemptions have been granted.
- Outdoor events, venues and activities: Fully outdoor events and venues will have no capacity restrictions (excluding washrooms) but effective September 16, 2021, attendees must maintain two metres of physical distancing. Outdoor sport, fitness, recreation and performance activities can continue with no restrictions.
Weddings and funerals
Effective September 20, 2021, indoor wedding and funeral receptions are prohibited, unless the hosting facility implements the Restrictions Exemption Program. Indoor wedding ceremonies and funeral services will still be permitted, but will be capped at 50 people or 50% of the fire occupancy, whichever is less.
Outdoor ceremonies, services and receptions are permitted with up to 200 people. Liquor sales must end at 10 p.m. and consumption must end by 11 p.m., unless the hosting facility implements the restrictions exemption program.
If you are an employer and your business requires advice on navigating the new announcement or assistance with preparing a vaccination policy, please contact the Dentons Employment and Labour group for a consultation.