Overview

Alberta is taking action to protect Albertans against the highly transmissible Omicron variant by ramping up health system capacity, providing free rapid test kits, expanding vaccine boosters, clarifying indoor social gathering limits, and decreasing capacity in large venues.

Businesses participating in the Restrictions Exemption Program can operate with less restrictions if they require patrons 12 and over to show proof of vaccination or a recent negative test result. New measures came into effect December 24.

Albertans are asked to reduce their number of contacts by half, limit unrestricted activities where there is a high risk of transmission, and observe all public health measures to slow the spread.

Translated resources

COVID-19 resources are available in عربي, 中文, हिंदी, 한국어, فارسی, ਪੰਜਾਬੀ, Af-Soomaali, Español, Français, Tagalog, Tiếng Việt and اردو on alberta.ca/CovidTranslated.

Restrictions exemption program

In-scope organizations must follow one of these 2 options:

  1. Implement the Restrictions Exemption Program requiring proof of vaccination, negative test results or medical exemption for patrons 12 and over, plus mandatory masking, to continue operating as usual, or
  2. Comply with all restrictions as outlined in public health orders.
  • Program requirements

    The Restrictions Exemption Program permits in-scope businesses, entities and organizers to operate without most public health restrictions as outlined in Order 54-2021, as modified by Order 56-2021 and Order 59-2021. Masks are still mandatory indoors.

    Operators that are out-of-scope or choose not to fully implement the program must comply with all public health restrictions outlined in Order 55-2021.

    How to participate

    Operators do not need to apply, but must follow or exceed the program requirements at all times, including requiring all patrons aged 12 and over to provide valid:

    • proof of vaccination, or
    • proof of a privately-paid negative rapid test result taken within 72 hours of service, or
    • documentation of a medical exemption

    Resources

    The program does not apply to

    • Businesses or entities that need to be accessed by the public for daily living purposes, including all retail locations.
    • Employees, contractors, repair or delivery workers, volunteers or inspectors entering the space for work purposes.
    • Children under 12.

    Enforcement

    • Operators will be audited for compliance.
    • Requirements can be enforced by AHS, AGLC and police units.
    • Public can submit complaints if they believe operators are not in compliance.
  • Proof of vaccination and QR code scanner

    To enter spaces participating in the Restrictions Exemption Program, people ages 12 and older must be fully vaccinated (at least 14 days from second dose of a 2-dose vaccine or a single dose of Janssen).

    Valid proof of vaccination

    • Alberta vaccine record with QR Code (paper or digital) is now the only valid Alberta-issued proof of vaccination accepted by operators participating in REP.
    • Other accepted forms of proof of vaccination include:
    • Personal identification that matches the vaccine record is also required for all adults 18 and over.

    Scanning QR codes

    • Businesses can use the AB Covid Records Verifier app to scan vaccine QR codes, including those from other provinces, territories and Canadian Armed Forces.
      • If the record is valid, the app will display a green checkmark and the person's legal name and date of birth. It does not access or store any other personal information.
      • Internet connection is not required to scan codes.
      • Download the app for free from Google Play or the App Store.
    • Tipsheet: How to use the AB Covid Records Verifier app

    Repeat customers

    Not vaccinated? Book your vaccination appointment.

  • Proof of negative test

    To enter spaces participating in the Restrictions Exemption Program, people aged 12 and older can show proof of a negative test result.

    • The test result should be a written or printed copy that indicates the individual has tested negative for COVID-19 on a Health Canada approved rapid antigen, rapid PCR, or lab based PCR test approved by Health Canada or the lab accreditation body of jurisdiction.
      • Valid test results should be a written or printed copy that clearly outlines the type of test, time of sample collection, clear indication of a negative result, and laboratory that completed the test, if applicable.
      • Photos of a rapid test or result taken offsite is not sufficient.
      • A self-test completed offsite or self-produced documentation of a negative test result is not valid.
      • Do not bring completed self-tests or rapid tests to businesses due to communicable disease risk.
    • Tests must not be from the Alberta Health Services public COVID-19 testing system.
    • Operators offering on-site rapid testing should seek expert medical oversight prior to implementing a rapid testing program.
    • For more details, see requirements for the Restrictions Exemption Program.
  • Proof of medical exemption

    To enter spaces participating in the Restrictions Exemption Program, people 12 and older can provide documentation of a medical exemption.

    • A valid medical exemption is the original signed letter from a physician or nurse practitioner that includes:
      • date which the letter was provided
      • person's name that matches their identification
      • physician’s or nurse practitioner’s complete information, including:
        • name, phone number, contact information, professional registration number and signature
        • statement that there is a medical reason for not being fully vaccinated against COVID-19
        • duration that the exemption is valid
  • In-scope operators

    The following in-scope businesses, entities and organizers are eligible to participate:

    • Restaurants and food courts with closed access to the public
    • Nightclubs
    • 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, concert halls and other similar venues
    • Fitness and recreation facilities for physical activity, performance activity or recreational activity
    • 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
    • Indoor adult sport and performance activities (participants and spectators)
    • Professional sporting or performance events (spectators)
    • Private social events held in public facilities where the facility maintains responsibility for adherence to these requirements
    • Adult recreational activities (for example, classes, groups)
    • Amenities in hotels and condos, including fitness rooms, pools and game rooms

    November 29 updates:

    • Ski hills and facilities can operate under a hybrid model (see business restrictions for details)
    • Paid-entry markets and trade shows, such as artisan and craft fairs, automotive shows, gun shows and holiday markets or similar events of a short-term nature
    • Private passenger vehicles, such as buses or vans rented out or chartered for attending a private event, gathering, or activity, as well as privately-operated transportation services
  • Out-of-scope operators

    The following out-of-scope operators are not eligible to participate:

    • Child care settings
    • Events in private dwellings
    • Retail, including membership-only stores
    • Shopping malls
    • Libraries
    • Workers and employees in/on a worksite for the purposes of their employment
    • Schools (Kindergarten to Grade 12)
    • School curriculum-based activities
    • Accommodations (hotels, motels)
    • Places of Worship – for faith services
    • Mutual support groups
    • Health services
    • Personal services
    • Wellness services
    • Youth physical activity, performance activity and recreational activity, where all participants are under the age of 18
      • Note: coaches, instructors, trainers, referees, etc. are subject to the requirements of the facility if under the REP
    • Public transit, taxis and paid ride shares
    • Jury selection
    • Election purposes and other related activities
    • First responders attending for the purposes of responding to an emergency situation
    • 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

Business restrictions

New limits on large venues and restaurants come into effect December 24 at 12:01am.

  • Entertainment, event and recreation facilities

    Mandatory restriction - Updated Dec. 24

    Indoor entertainment, event and recreation facilities

    Indoor facilities that participate in the REP (effective Dec. 24):

    • Large facilities must limit capacity to:
      • 50% if facility has fire occupancy load over 1,000.
      • 500 attendees if facility has fire occupancy load between 500 and 999.
      • No capacity limit if facility has fire occupancy load under 500.
    • No food and drink consumption in seated audience settings or during intermissions in facilities with 500+ attendees.
      • Restaurants that are physically separate from audience seating are permitted to operate.
      • Liquor and operating hour limits apply; food and beverages must be provided by table service.
    • Venues with a gaming licence, facility licence, or a Class B licence must end liquor service at 11pm and stop liquor consumption at 12:30am (for example: bowling alleys, bingo and pool halls, casinos, and indoor recreation entertainment centres).

    Indoor events that participate in the REP (effective Dec. 24):

    • Limit of 10 people maximum per table. No mingling between tables.
    • No interactive activities (for example: dancing, darts, billiars).
    • If they have a Special Event Licence, liquor service ends at 11pm and must close at 12:30am.

    Indoor facilities that do not implement the REP (no change):

    • Limit capacity to 1/3 fire code occupancy.
    • Require attendees to be be with household members only, or 2 close contacts if they live alone.

    Outdoor entertainment, event and recreation facilities

    • Events and facilities that are fully outdoors (excluding washrooms), have no capacity restrictions but must maintain 2 metres distancing between households or 2 close contact for those living alone.
  • Restaurants, cafes, bars, pubs and nightclubs

    Mandatory restriction - Updated Dec. 24

    The following applies to businesses that implement REP:

    • Limit of 10 people maximum per table. No mingling between tables.
    • No interactive activities (For example: dancing, darts, billiards).
    • Businesses with Class A or C liquor licences must end liquor service at 11pm and close at 12:30am.

    The following applies to businesses that do not implement REP:

    • Indoor dining is not permitted.
    • Outdoor dining only with a maximum of 6 people per table (one household or 2 close contacts for those living alone).
    • Liquor service ends at 10pm and consumption must end by 11pm.
  • Retail and shopping malls

    Mandatory restriction - Effective Sept. 20

    Retail and shopping malls are not eligible for the Restrictions Exemption Program as public access is necessary for daily living. Therefore these restrictions apply:

    • Capacity restricted to 1/3 fire code occupancy.
    • Attendees must be with household members only, or 2 close contacts if they live alone.
  • Sport, fitness and performance activities

    Mandatory restriction - Effective Sept. 16 and 20

    Adult (18-plus) sport, fitness and performance activities

    • The following restrictions apply unless the facility or program implements the Restrictions Exemption Program:
      • Indoor group classes and activities are not permitted.
      • Indoor competitions are paused except where vaccine exemptions have been granted.
      • Indoor one-on-one training and solo activities are allowed with 3 metre physical distancing.
      • Outdoor activities can continue with no restrictions.

    Youth (under 18) sport, fitness and performance activities

    • Indoor group classes, training, and competitions are permitted, but participants are required to:
      • screen for symptoms
      • maintain 2 metres distancing, except youth while engaged in physical activity
      • wear a mask, except youth while engaged in physical activity
    • Spectator attendance is restricted to 1/3 fire code capacity, attendees are limited to a single household or 2 close contact if living alone and must be masked and maintain 2 metres physical distancing.
    • Outdoor activities can continue with no restrictions.

    Day and overnight camps

    • Day camps required to maintain physical distancing between participants and masking indoors.
    • Overnight camps must follow cohort models.
  • Ski hills

    Mandatory restriction - Effective Nov. 29

    Ski hills can operate under a hybrid model where their indoor operations follow the Restrictions Exemption Program (REP) guidelines, and their outdoor operations are not required to do so.

    • If participating in REP:
      • indoor dining and other indoor activities are permitted without physical distancing or capacity restrictions
      • physical distancing is not required on enclosed chairlifts and gondolas
      • masks are still required for enclosed indoor areas
    • If not participating in REP:
      • indoor dining is not permitted
      • other indoor activities are subject to physical distancing and capacity restrictions
      • physical distancing is required on enclosed chairlifts and gondolas
      • masks are required for enclosed indoor areas
    • Outdoor operations (applicable to all ski hills):
      • Open-air chair lifts do not require physical distancing and can be used by people who are not part of the same household or cohort
  • Working from home

    Mandatory measure - Effective Sept. 16

    • Mandatory work-from-home measures are in place unless the employer has determined a physical presence is required for operational effectiveness.
    • If employees are working on location, they must mask in all indoor settings, except while alone in work stations.

Gathering restrictions

Albertans should limit unrestricted activities, reduce the number of contacts by half, and refrain from workplace social gatherings to help slow the spread.

  • Social gatherings (indoor and outdoor)

    Mandatory restriction – Updated December 21

    Indoor social gatherings

    • Indoor private social gatherings are limited to a maximum of 10 people 18 and older.
    • There are no limits on people 17 and under if accompanied by their parent or guardian. It attending the gathering by themselves, they will count towards the maximum limit of 10 people.
    • The indoor gathering restriction does not apply to mutual support groups, or to workers who need to access your home to provide caregiving support or home repairs and maintenance.

    Outdoor social gatherings

    • Outdoor private social gatherings limited to a maximum of 20 people, with 2 metre physical distancing between households at all times.

    Workplace gatherings

    • Albertans should refrain from workplace social gatherings.
  • Places of worship

    Mandatory restriction - Effective Sept. 16

    • Capacity limited to 1/3 fire code occupancy.
    • Masks are mandatory.
    • 2 metres physical distancing between households, or 2 close contacts for those living alone.
  • Weddings and funerals

    Mandatory restriction - Effective Sept. 20 (updated Dec 24)

    Indoor events

    • Indoor wedding ceremonies and funeral services are permitted with up to 50 people or 50% of fire code occupancy, whichever is less, unless the hosting facility implements the Restrictions Exemption Program (REP).
    • Indoor wedding and funeral receptions are prohibited, unless the hosting facility implements the REP.
      • Wedding receptions that implement the REP must follow seating, liquor sale and closure restrictions.
      • Dancing is permitted, but other interactive activities are not permitted.

    Outdoor events

    • Outdoor ceremonies, services and receptions are permitted with up to 200 people and must follow liquor sales and consumption restrictions (sales end at 10pm, consumption by 11pm), unless the hosting facility implements the REP.

Masks and schools

  • Masks and physical distancing

    Mandatory restriction – Updated Dec. 21

    • Masking and 2 metres physical distancing are mandatory in all indoor public spaces, workplaces, and places of worship.
    • For fully vaccinated people who have just completed the 5-day isolation and no longer have symptoms, masks must be worn at all times outside of home for an additional 5 days.
    • Employees must mask in all indoor work settings, except while alone in work stations.
    • Masks are still required in places that implement the Restrictions Exemption Program.
    • Masks should fit well and be of high quality. People at risk of severe outcomes should wear medical masks when in settings with people outside of their household.

    Learn more about mask requirements

  • Schools (K to 12)

    Mandatory measure - Effective Sept. 16 

    • Mandatory masking for students in Grades 4 and up, plus staff and teachers in all grades. Schools that implement an alternate COVID safety plan can be exempted from mandatory masking.
    • Elementary schools to implement class cohorting.
    • Indoor sports, fitness, recreation, and performance activities are permitted in schools, with requirements to maintain 2 metre physical distancing where possible.
      • Masks and distancing are not required by youth under 18 while engaged in physical activity.
      • Spectator attendance restricted to 1/3 fire code capacity and limited to households or 2 close contacts for those living alone. Attendees must be masked and distanced.

    For more information, see K-12 learning during COVID-19

  • Post-secondary institutions

    Mandatory measure – Effective Sept. 20

    • Post-secondary institutions are not eligible for the Restrictions Exemption Program.
    • However, post-secondaries can implement a proof of vaccination program for students to be eligible for an exemption that permits the following:
      • Students and staff do not have to maintain physical distancing in learning environments (where there is no access to persons not part of the program). Physical distancing is required in common spaces.
      • Cafeterias and dining halls can be open for staff and students to dine indoors, with no requirement to physically distance or sit only with members of your household or your 2 close contacts, and no limit on the number of people per table.
      • Note: other public health measures, such as mandatory masking in all public spaces and restrictions around adult physical and performance activities, continue to apply.
    • All post-secondary proof of vaccine programs must ensure:
      • All student have been vaccinated with at least a first dose of a World Health Organization (WHO) approved COVID-19 vaccine no later than September 20, 2021, and be fully immunized with a WHO-approved COVID-19 vaccine no later than November 1, 2021.
        • Full immunization occurs 14 days after the second dose is received.
      • Students who remain unvaccinated or are vaccinated after these dates must be able to show:
        • proof of medical exemption from vaccination or
        • produce negative results from COVID-19 tests that are conducted regularly (for example, twice weekly) by the institution or a private test provider.
      • Note: Proof of vaccination is not required from staff and contractors.
    • If a post-secondary institution decides not to implement a proof of vaccination program, it must follow all public health measures in Order 44-2021.
    • Varsity sports teams at post-secondary institutions are considered to be semi-professional and may conduct group physical activity indoors and do not need to maintain distancing or wear face masks during play.
      • Physical distancing and masking are required before and after play (for example, in change rooms, washrooms, etc.)

Testing, tracing and isolating

  • Testing

  • Isolation and quarantine requirements

    Fully vaccinated

    • If you are fully vaccinated and have symptoms and/or test positive with a PCR test, you are required to isolate for 5 days or until symptoms resolve — whichever is longer.
    • If you are fully vaccinated and without symptoms, but test positive with a rapid test, you are not required to isolate if:
      • you test negative with a second rapid test taken 24 hours after the first test. You must isolate until this second test is taken. If any symptom develops, you must isolate immediately.
    • For 5 days following isolation, wear a mask at all times when around others outside of home.

    Not fully vaccinated

    • If you are unvaccinated and have symptoms and/or test positive with a PCR test, you are required to isolate for 10 days or until symptoms resolve — whichever is longer.
    • Household contacts who are not fully immunized should stay home for 14 days (i.e. not attend work, school or other activities).
  • Contact tracing and case investigation

    • Individuals with positive tests will continue to be notified.
    • Contact tracers will not notify close contacts of positive cases, but will ask that individuals do so when informed of their positive result.
    • Contact tracers will continue to investigate cases in high-risk settings, such as acute and continuing care.
  • Outbreaks

    • Outbreak management and identification will focus on high-risk locations, including continuing and acute care and high-risk workplaces.
    • Community outbreaks with a surge in cases leading to severe outcomes will be addressed as needed.
  • Health care and congregate care settings

    • Existing public health orders for acute care remain in place.
    • Public health orders for continuing care remain in place.

    For more information on current restrictions in these settings, see protecting residents at congregate care facilities.

Public health orders and exemptions

  • Public health orders and exemptions

  • Mask exceptions

    In the specific settings where a mask is required, anyone unable to wear a mask due to a medical condition will require a medical exception letter from an authorized health professional.

    The medical exception letter may be presented when in a public setting if requested by enforcement officials, or retrospectively in court if a ticket is issued.

    See mask requirements for more information.

  • Promoting safe public spaces

    Public Health Order 30-2021 clarifies that large gatherings can be held on public land for political purposes (rallies, public demonstrations, protests, etc.).

    To help protect health, masking and physical distancing requirements are in place.

    As with other activities in general, participants at these gatherings are subject to enforcement actions if public health measures are not followed.

Guidance and posters

General guidance and resources are available to help Albertans and businesses follow best practices to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

  • Additional guidance for businesses and event organizers

  • Posters and fact sheets

  • Assessing personal risk

    Albertans are encouraged to assess and manage their personal risk. It is reasonable for people to continue using precautions that will serve their needs.

    Risk factors

    When assessing your personal risk, it is important to consider your setting, individual health and wellness factors, and comfort level. Consult your health care provider if you want help assessing your personal risk of severe outcomes or determining your personal risk level.

    Factors that increase COVID-19 risk:

    • You are not fully vaccinated yet.
    • You regularly interact with children 11 and under who cannot be vaccinated yet.
    • You attend crowded indoor spaces.
    • You have risk factors for severe health outcomes from COVID-19.

    Factors that lower COVID-19 risk:

    • You are fully vaccinated.
    • You mostly socialize outdoors, instead of indoors.
    • You have a small social circle.
    • You can normally maintain distancing from other people.

    Additional precautions

    The best thing you can do to support your health and reduce the risk to the broader community is to get vaccinated. Vaccines are our best protection against COVID-19 and the safest and most effective way to protect against infection and severe illness.

    Additionally, all Albertans should:

    • practice good hand and respiratory hygiene
    • stay home when they are sick

    If you have risk factors as described above, it is reasonable to consider additional precautions such as:

    • avoiding or limiting time spent in crowded indoor places
    • minimizing close contact with anyone showing cold-like symptoms
    • continuing to use a face mask
  • Mental health supports

    We encourage Albertans to access supports that are available, if and when they are needed, and to respect how others are adjusting in this time of transition. For additional guidance, see mental health support (PDF, 270 KB).

Get vaccinated

COVID-19 vaccines are safe, effective and save lives. All Albertans 5 and older can book an appointment now. Some people most at risk of severe illness can now get a third dose.

Book your shot Get your vaccine QR record Get the facts

Enforcement

If you violate a public health order, you may be subject to a $4,000 fine. Additionally, you can be prosecuted for up to $100,000 for a first time offense.

If you are concerned someone is not following public health orders, you can:

  • remind them that not following orders is against the law and puts people at risk
  • request service from AHS public health inspectors online or call 1-833-415-9179

Submit a request online

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