On March 27, 2020, Premier Kenney, along with Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer (“CMO”) of Health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, ordered the closure of all non-essential businesses, effective immediately. This closure impacts employers in the following sectors:
- non-essential retail;
- recreation and entertainment;
- restaurants, cafes and bars; and
- personal service businesses that require close contact between people, including cosmetic enhancement, wellness studios and clinics, and non-emergency and non-critical health services.
A full list of employers impacted by the closure order can be found here. Any businesses that fail to comply with this business closure order will be subject to the penalties and enforcement measures for non-compliance.
The following types of businesses and services are considered essential in Alberta and will remain operational at this time to ensure services key to Alberta’s citizens and economy continue in the midst of this global pandemic:
- health, medical and public health;
- public safety and security;
- food and shelter;
- energy and utilities;
- petroleum, natural gas, and coal;
- agricultural and horticultural;
- essential retail;
- financial services;
- information and telecommunications;
- public administration and government; and
- other essential services including professional services such as lawyers, engineers, and accountants.
The full detailed list of all essential services in Alberta can be found here. Businesses and services deemed essential by the Alberta Government can continue to operate, provided they continue risk mitigation strategies such as sanitation stations and appropriate distancing between customers.
The closure of non-essential businesses and list of essential services follows the Alberta government’s March 27, 2020 announcement that the maximum size of group gatherings in the province is now restricted to 15 people. This restriction applies to a wide range of events and activities, including, conferences, workshops, social events like family gatherings, and religious celebrations.
Strict adherence to practicing social distancing while gathered is expected, such as arranging alternative means of facilitating large group meetings. Where social distancing protocol cannot be maintained, or attendees include those particularly vulnerable to COVID-19 or those who have recently travelled, events are required to be cancelled even if 15 or fewer attendees are anticipated. Employers must also continue with business continuity planning to prepare critical operations in the event of a potential interruption due to COVID-19.
To assist businesses with these changes, the Government of Alberta has released the following resources:
- Workplace Guidance for Business Owners;
- Guidance for Managers and Operators of Industrial Work Camps; and
- Further information regarding reducing risk in gatherings.
As an essential services business, Mathews Dinsdale & Clark LLP remains operational, and is committed to continuing to update our clients with information as soon as it becomes available. If you have any questions about this topic, other COVID-19 related questions, or would like assistance with developing and/or reviewing pandemic plans, please do not hesitate to contact a Mathews Dinsdale lawyer, or refer to the Firm’s COVID-19 website resources.