© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A man pulls his luggage past baggage carts at Toronto Pearson International Airport in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada on February 20, 2021. REUTERS / Kyaw Soe Oo
By Steve Scherer and Nia Williams (NYSE 🙂
OTTAWA / CALGARY, Alberta (Reuters) – The Canadian province of Alberta will increase restrictions to limit the spread of COVID-19 as a third wave of the pandemic threatens to overwhelm the hospital system within weeks, Prime Minister Jason Kenney said Tuesday.
Stricter measures include restricting schools to online learning, ordering jobs with COVID-19 outbreaks for 10 days, closing salons, allowing restaurants to only offer a take-out service, and cutting down the number of people allowed to attend funerals and religious services.
Alberta, the center of Canada's energy industry, has the highest per capita rate of COVID-19 cases in the country, following Ontario and Quebec in tightening restrictions.
"If you can stay home, please stay home," Kenney told a news conference.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Tuesday the federal government is offering any help the province needs to bring the situation under control and keep the Albertans safe.
The stricter measures in Alberta will come on the same day that Canadian Tourism Minister Melanie Joly said the country was working with international partners to develop standardized vaccine certification for travel.
Canada currently has a higher infection rate than the US as it introduces vaccines during a third wave. The country has only fully vaccinated 3% of its nearly 38 million people, although more than 34% have received a first dose and millions of doses arrive every week.
"As the vaccination comes in, we will clearly position ourselves as a safe target," Joly said in a telephone interview after attending a virtual meeting with her G20 colleagues earlier in the day.
Canada's land border with the United States has been closed to non-essential travel since March 2020, and those arriving by air must be self-tested and quarantined.
The third wave to hit the country has tarnished airline and tourism hopes for travel again this summer.
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