Airdrie–East MLA Angela Pitt calls on Kenney to relax COVID-19 rules in wake of patio photos

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A UCP MLA is calling on Premier Jason Kenney to further reduce restrictions and allow more people to sit together at restaurants, "in the same fashion in which the premier just portrayed," referring to photos of him dining on the 'Sky Palace' patio.

Airdrie-East MLA Angela Pitt penned the post Friday morning, days after photos emerged of Kenney dining on the patio outside his office along with Health Minister Tyler Shandro, Finance Minister Travis Toews, Minister of Environment and Parks and House Leader Jason Nixon and the premier's Deputy Chief of Staff Pam Livingston, among others.

"Looking at these photos it seems clear to me that several health restrictions were violated," said Pitt.

"Much of the public concern about this incident has been about the hypocrisy of senior officials breaking their own rules. I can certainly understand these concerns.

"As a proud conservative, a former business owner, and the representative for Airdrie-East, it pains me to watch the small businesses in my community being the constant target of government restrictions. I see the extreme amounts of uncertainty. I see the unmeasurable levels of creative problem-solving being invested into working with COVID-19 restrictions, only for the restrictions to change over and over again."

The province is at Stage 1 of its three-part reopening plan, which allows outdoor socializing in groups up to 10, and restaurants and bars to allow dining on patios, with a maximum of four people per table, who should be from the same household. Those who live alone can dine with up to two close contacts.

Stage 2 will allow for indoor dining and outdoor groups up to 20 people. That could happen by June 10, as more than 60 per cent of eligible Albertans have received at least one dose of vaccine and hospitalizations remain under 500.

Stage 3, set to begin two weeks after the province reaches 70 per cent vaccination, will see all public health measures removed.

"The premier had a restaurant dinner on his patio with (seven) friends, and it remains unclear to Albertans why a restaurant owner can't have larger groups on their patio," said Pitt.

"I am calling on the premier today to make the rules more consistent, to give businesses fairness, and to allow restaurants to safely operate in the same fashion in which the premier just portrayed."

Pitt was also one of 15 MLAs who signed a letter saying they didn't support the province's decision to bring in tougher measures in April to stop rising COVID-19 numbers.

She also initially refused to say whether she planned to get vaccinated, calling it a "personal decision" before later saying she would get a vaccine when she is eligible.

A spokesperson for Kenney issued a statement to CTV Calgary.

"Private outdoor gatherings of 10 or fewer are now allowed under Stage 1 of Alberta’s Open for Summer plan which began on June 1," it read.

"Albertans province-wide are now happily enjoying Stage 1 provisions – be it with backyard BBQs or hitting up a great restaurant patio – while looking forward to the further reopening of our province in the very near future."