"'Choices are winning': Kenney warns of new contagion as Alberta introduces new rules

In the race to vaccinate people amid an alarming rise in cases, options are winning, Alberta Premier Jason Kenney warned Tuesday as he announced new rules in his province, where restrictions are in place.

Posted  137 Views updated 6 months ago

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The ban on indoor restaurants and restrictions on store occupancy are returning to the western province, which now faces a surge in variants that Kenney said could lead to 2,000 cases a day by the end of the month if current trends continue.

"Few solutions in this pandemic environment are simple solutions. These solutions can and often do have negative consequences. It's not a sugar rush," he said, winking at the deep divisions over pandemic restrictions in his province and in his own party.

But speaking to the media, he appeared to directly address those who have been vocal against the new rules in recent weeks.

"As premier, I cannot in good conscience ignore the facts and choose policies that could lead to hundreds of preventable deaths."

The school closures came on the same day that full-time schooling was halted in Ontario, as several jurisdictions across the country have seen an alarming rise in cases caused by the most common new variants of the virus.

But the debate over the new restrictions has been especially heated in "freedom-loving Alberta," as Kenney called it, where the ruling United Conservatives have faced criticism from both sides of the political aisle.

At the same time, the province appears poised to regain its status as one of the country's COVID hotspots, with the highest number of new cases in the country in the past week. According to Health Canada's online tracker, the province has reported 143 cases per 100,000 population, the highest rate in the country.

Even with the introduction of vaccines, there are now nearly 1,000 new cases every day in the province, and nearly half of those cases are viral variants.

On Tuesday, the province recorded a record 676 daily cases of the virus.

As an example of how quickly these versions of the virus can spread, Kenney cited an infected traveler returning from British Columbia who is currently battling the largest outbreak of the P.1 variant outside of Brazil, which has resulted in 35 other infections and one death.

He nodded to the hope offered by vaccines and announced that by the end of May, nearly half the province will have been vaccinated.

But for now, the battle is not over.

“It’s no secret I’ve been wrestling with finding this balance,” Kenney said.

“Ultimately what causes me to support measures like the ones we’re announcing today is my belief in the sanctity of human life, and particularly a moral obligation that we there as a society that we all bear for our neighbours.”

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  • "'Choices are winning': Kenney warns of new contagion as Alberta introduces new rules
  • Jizan Beltran