As of March 25, Albertans are legally required under public health order to isolate for:
- 14 days if they recently returned from international travel or are a close contact of someone with COVID-19
- 10 days if they have a COVID-19 symptom (cough, fever, shortness of breath, runny nose, or sore throat) that is not related to a pre-existing illness or health condition
Travellers and close contacts of confirmed cases
You are legally required to isolate for 14 days if you:
- returned from travel outside of Canada after March 12, or
- are a close contact of a person who tested positive for COVID-19 (provides care, lives with or has close physical contact without appropriate use of personal protective equipment, or comes into direct contact with infectious body fluids)
If you become sick with cough, fever, shortness of breath, runny nose or sore throat during this time, you must isolate for an additional 10 days from the beginning of symptoms or until you are feeling well, whichever takes longer.
Albertans with symptoms
You are legally required to isolate for a minimum of 10 days if you have a cough, fever, shortness of breath, runny nose, or sore throat that is not related to a pre-existing illness or health condition. You must follow these requirements even if you've been tested for COVID-19.
The mandatory isolation period is 10 days from the start of symptoms, or until symptoms resolve, whichever takes longer.
Albertans who test positive for COVID-19
You are legally required to self-isolate for a minimum of 10 days if you have tested positive for COVID-19.
Self-isolation period is for 10 days from the start of symptoms, or until symptoms resolve, whichever takes longer.
How to isolate
If you are in mandatory isolation:
- Stay home – do not leave your home or attend work, school, social events or any other public gatherings.
- Avoid close contact with people in your household, especially seniors and people with chronic conditions or compromised immune systems.
- You are prohibited from taking public transportation like buses, taxis or ride-sharing.
- Do not go outside for a walk through your neighbourhood or park. This includes children in mandatory isolation.
- You can get fresh air in your backyard, if you have one, but you must remain on private property not accessible by others.
- If you live in an apartment building or highrise, you must stay inside and cannot use the elevators or stairwells to go outside. If your balcony is private and at least 2 metres away from your closest neighbour's, you may go outside on the balcony.
This directive is consistent with the new federal requirements under the Quarantine Act.
Exemption for testing and emergency care
If you are in mandatory isolation and need COVID-19 testing, critical care for pre-existing medical conditions or emergency care, carefully follow the rules in this exemption order.
- Pre-arrange your appointment and leaving your isolation area only on the date and at the time of your appointment.
- Follow all instructions provided by 811 or health-care providers.
- Use private transportation where practical. Maintain physical distance from others when shared transportation is necessary – travel directly to your appointment with no stops.
- Follow instructions provided by 911 if you require emergency care.
If you have concerns about your health:
Getting food and supplies
- Use delivery or pick-up services for errands like grocery shopping.
- Ask friends or family to drop off food, medicine and other supplies.
Don’t share household items
- If you are isolating, don’t share household items like dishes, drinking glasses, cups, eating utensils, towels and pillows.
- After using these items, wash them thoroughly with soap and water, place in the dishwasher for cleaning, or wash in the washing machine.
- Regularly clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces such as doorknobs and counters.
Wash your hands
- Wash your hands often with soap and water thoroughly for at least 20 seconds.
- Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available and if your hands are not visibly dirty.
- Don’t touch your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
Cover your coughs and sneezes
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve when you cough or sneeze.
- Throw used tissues in the garbage and immediately wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
- Use alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
How to prepare for mandatory isolation
Create a household action plan
Talk with the people who need to be included in your plan.
- Discuss with household members, other relatives, and friends what to do if a COVID-19 outbreak occurs in your community and what the needs of each person will be.
- Plan ways to care for those at greater risk of serious complications, such as ensuring you have sufficient medication, and determining what supplies are needed and if they can be delivered.
- Talk with your neighbours about emergency planning.
- Create a list of local organizations you can contact if you need access to information, health-care services, support or resources.
- Create an emergency contact list.
Prepare for isolation
- Choose a room in your home you can use to separate sick household members from healthy ones.
- Choose a separate bathroom for sick individuals to use, if possible.
- Plan to clean these rooms as needed when someone is sick.
- Have 72 hours’ worth of food and supplies at home. We do not recommend stockpiling goods.
Why isolation is necessary
Self-isolation means avoiding situations where you could infect other people. It is a good way to help prevent the spread of infections like COVID-19.
When you are exposed to an illness, there is a time between the exposure and when you start to feel sick. This incubation period is usually 2 to 10 days for COVID-19, but can be up to 14 days. Not everyone who is exposed will get sick, but it is necessary to wait the full 2 weeks to be sure you are not infected.
There is a very small chance you can spread the germs before you feel sick, as many people have very mild symptoms at the start of their sickness. Staying home means that if you do start to feel sick, it won’t happen while you are in a public place, which lowers the chance the virus could spread to others.
On March 25, Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer of Health issued orders under the Public Health Act that legally require returning international travellers, close contacts of confirmed cases, and people exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms to isolate.
Law enforcement agencies have been granted full authority to enforce public health orders and issue fines:
- Through amendments to the Public Health Act, community peace officers and police will be able to issue tickets to enforce COVID-19 public health orders.
- Fines administered through tickets for violating an order have increased from up to $100 per day to a prescribed fine of $1,000 per occurrence.
- Courts will also have increased powers to administer fines of up to $100,000 for a first offence and up to $500,000 for a subsequent offence for more serious violations.
- These new fines will be in force over the coming days.
If you know someone who is not isolating when they are legally required to:
- take proper precautions and distance yourself from the person to limit your risk of exposure if they have symptoms
- remind the person that not following public health orders is against the law and puts people at risk
- submit a complaint