People who live alone will be able to visit one other household, one time, over the holidays, Alberta Premier Jason Kenney announced on Tuesday.
The announcement represents a change in the public health restrictions for those who live alone and allows for them to visit one other home between Dec. 23 and Dec. 28.
A household would be able to host up to two single Albertans, Kenney said, allowing for children to come home for Christmas.
"This is a small change that was just adopted based on advice from the Minister of Health, with input from the Chief Medical Officer, by the COVID cabinet committee – and it will make a world of difference for single Albertans who otherwise would not be able to visit their families over Christmas," Kenney said.
"Similarly, it will allow parents who would otherwise spend Christmas alone to welcome their children home for the holidays,"
But the premier noted there is still ban on large social gatherings over the holidays, and added he wishes he could make broader exemptions for seasonal gatherings.
The premier said gatherings that happened over Thanksgiving caused a large spike in COVID-19 cases over the past two months, which resulted in hospitalizations and deaths for many Albertans.
"If we were to gather in typical large extended-family gatherings over the holidays, beginning with 800 people in hospital, there is absolutely no doubt that we would lose all of the progress that we have made in recent weeks," Kenney said.
"We would be back into exponential growth, and it wouldn't take very much for those 800 cases in hospital to turn into 1,600, and for the 1,600 to turn into 3,200, and at that point we would be completely overwhelming our health-care system."
On Tuesday, the province announced another 1,021 cases of COVID-19, with 14,199 tests run for a positivity rate of 7.2 per cent. There are currently 802 people in the hospital and 152 of them in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU).
There are 18,311 active cases of COVID-19 in Alberta.
In the past 24 hours, 11 more Albertans passed away from COVID-19, bringing the total since the beginning of the pandemic up to 871 people.
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