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Alberta joined Ontario Tuesday afternoon in declaring a state of public emergency in response to COVID-19.

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney said the emergency management committee of cabinet authorized him Monday evening to use “all powers necessary” to keep Albertans safe.

“This declaration is meant to empower authorities under the Public Health Act to more effectively manage the pandemic response,” Mr. Kenney told reporters.

“Decisive action is needed, and we are taking that action.”

Alberta is also implementing new measures on social distancing. The province is banning any organized gathering of more than 50 people, and all Albertans are prohibited from going to public recreation facilities, and private entertainment facilities – such as casinos, bingo halls, bars, theatres and children’s play centres.

The list of prohibited gathering spots also includes arenas, science centres, museums, art galleries, fitness centres, and community centres.

The order does not apply to the Alberta legislature, to health care facilities, grocery stores, airports and other essential services.

Homeless shelters and other non-profit or religious organizations that provide services are also exempt from the order.

Restaurants – save for buffets – coffee shops, pubs and delis will be able to stay open, for now. But they are limited to a maximum of 50 people, or 50 per cent of their authorized capacity – whichever is lower.

Mr. Kenney added his government has also changed provincial regulations to allow restaurants to engage in off-sales of liquor, “to help them liquidate their inventories during this very challenging time.”

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