Alberta leaves 'essential services' out of restriction exemption program

With new public health restrictions coming into effect Monday, Alberta’s government released new information to clarify its restriction exemption program.

Announced on Wednesday, Alberta Premier Jason Kenney said due to the escalating COVID-19 situation, which he described as a “crisis of the unvaccinated,” the province would implement a way to check the immunization status.

The program will come into effect on Monday.

Initially the province announced all businesses could choose whether they would participate in the restrictions exemption program by checking for proof of vaccination or slash their capacity to one-third of fire code.

On Saturday, Alberta Health told CTV News that retail stores would no longer be eligible to participate in the exemption program – meaning even if they checked for proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test result, the business would need to abide by capacity limit restrictions.

“Retail, shopping malls and food courts are not eligible for the Restrictions Exemption Program as public access is necessary for daily living,” the province’s website read.

“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.”

Businesses that cannot participate in the restriction exemption program includes:

  • Shopping centres and malls
  • All retail locations
  • Libraries
  • Hotels
  • K-12 schools
  • Post-secondary institutions
  • Health services
  • Food courts

Some businesses eligible to participate in the restriction exemption program are:

  • Casinos
  • Restaurants
  • Bowling facilities
  • Arcades
  • Bingo halls
  • VLT lounges
  • Movie theatres
  • Museums
  • Art galleries
  • Night clubs
  • Recreation and fitness facilities
  • Professional sporting or performance events (for spectators)

Albertans can access their vaccination record through MyHealth Records or a newly created “express system” where no account is needed. 

Many people on social media quickly pointed out on Sunday that proof of vaccination cards generated by the express system and on MyHealth Records can easily be forged.

With files from CTV News Calgary’s Timm Bruch