he Alberta government on Tuesday ordered the closure of all casinos, among other businesses, and imposed a mandatory provincewide mask requirement under new restrictions aimed at curbing the Canadian province's soaring COVID-19 infection rates.
The new restrictions will be in place for at least four weeks. Casinos, gyms and dine-in service at restaurants will be shut down, all outdoor social gatherings will be banned and masks will be mandatory across Alberta, Premier Jason Kenney announced Tuesday. The ban on social gatherings and masking mandate are effective immediately while all other measures will come into effect at 12:01 a.m. on Sunday.
Century Casinos said Wednesday in a statement that it will temporarily close its Canadian casinos and racetracks at 11:59 p.m. on Saturday to comply with quarantines issued by the Alberta government to contain the spread of COVID-19, adding that the government mandate is expected to be reassessed in four weeks. "The COVID-19 situation continues to evolve rapidly, and it currently appears that due to the pandemic's current scope it will adversely impact the Company at least through the first half of 2021," the company stated.
The suite of new restrictions came as Alberta reported 1,727 new cases of COVID-19 Tuesday, bringing the total number of active cases in the province to 20,388 — the highest in Canada. Until now, the province has taken a regional approach with COVID-19 restrictions, but Kenney said that is not a viable option anymore.
“We know that hundreds or potentially thousands more Albertans could die,” Kenney said, as reported by Edmonton Journal. “We are now at a place where viral transmission is so widespread in the community, that it does not any longer matter how careful business operators are.”
As of Sunday, restaurants, pubs, bars, lounges and cafes will be closed to dine-in service while other businesses including casinos, bingo halls, bowling alleys, legions and private clubs will be shut down. Hotels can remain open, but must follow public health restrictions, including the closure of spas, pools or in-person dining — only room service will be available.
Jobs, Economy and Innovation Minister Doug Schweitzer said an additional 15,000 businesses will qualify for the grant that is now open to businesses who have experienced a 30 per cent reduction in revenue — a drop from the previous 50 per cent requirement. Businesses will be eligible for up to 15 per cent of their pre-COVID monthly revenues up to $20,000. Applications will open later this month.