Alberta Orders All Casinos to Close Under New Tighter Restrictions
December 9, 2020
The Alberta government has ordered all casinos, among other establishments, to close completely by Saturday, December 12 as a result of the province's soaring COVID-19 infection rates.
The ruling means that all casinos, bingo halls, gaming entertainment centres, racing entertainment centres, horse tracks, and raceways must close by the end of this week, as well as bowling alleys, pool halls, legions, and private clubs.
Operators like Century Casinos and Pure Canadian Gaming must now wind down all activity again until further notice.
Century noted in a press release that the government mandate is expected to be reassessed in four weeks. However, Century added that "it currently appears that due to the pandemic's current scope it will adversely impact the Company at least through the first half of 2021."
On Tuesday, December 8, Alberta reported 1,727 new cases of the virus. It also set another record with 20,388 active cases. 654 people in the province were being treated in hospitals for COVID-19, including 112 in intensive care units. The hospitalization numbers have grown by 600 per cent since the last week of October, Kenney said.
Another nine deaths were added to the toll on Tuesday, bringing the total to 640 since March.
"I also understand that to many people these policies, these restrictions, seem unjust," said the Premier. "I've made no secret of the fact that Alberta's government has been reluctant to use extraordinary powers to damage or destroy livelihoods in this way."
He added his government sees the latest restrictions as the only way to try to bend the infection curve.
"I know how devastating today's announcement and these measures are for tens of thousands of small business owners who have been coping through an impossibly difficult year, for hundreds of thousands of their employees and so many others who have found themselves without work," Kenney said.
"But we are now at a place where viral transmission is so widespread in the community that it does not any longer matter how careful business operators are. Because community transmission means that staff and clients, the general public, represent a risk of transmission."
In response, the provincial government will expand the Small and Medium Enterprise Relaunch Grant, with a new lower threshold and increased grant amounts. Businesses will be eligible to apply for a second payment through the program, for a total of up to $20,000 in potential funding each, up from the original $5,000. Up to 15,000 more businesses may be eligible for government funding, the province said in a news release.
The program will also expand to include businesses that have experienced revenue losses of at least 30 per cent due to the pandemic, lowering the threshold from the former requirement of 40 per cent revenue losses.