With Christmas Day now only a couple of weeks away, Calgary’s Inglewood neighbourhood was bustling Saturday afternoon as shoppers looked to cross some names of their holiday lists.
Finding that special gift for that special someone wasn’t the only thing on the minds of shoppers. They were also thinking about what their holiday gatherings will look like this year — a topic the Alberta government is expected to address in the week ahead.
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Premier Jason Kenney recently suggested that his government may look to slightly relax public health measures for people to get together over the holidays.
“I don’t want to create a situation where we have millions of Albertans violating the rules when we’re not in a current emergency situation,” Kenney said. “That’s what we’ll be looking at on Tuesday.”
Kenney admitted that under current public health guidance, his own holiday plans would be a violation.
Holiday shoppers in Inglewood who spoke to Global News said they plan on keeping their dinner plans small and only with family.
“Even though we know our friends are all fully vaccinated, we just don’t want to get into that big group, in a home,” says Almas Rajwani-Rawji.
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It’s a similar situation for Janice Dyker, who says she’ll be heading to Manitoba to see family.
“Maybe a little smaller just because of COVID,” Dyker says. “But still lots of good food and good visiting.”
University of Alberta infectious disease expert Dr. Lynora Saxinger says the province will likely see a bump in cases as people are generally more interactive with each other during the holiday season.
“I think even if things remained unchanged, there could be an increased risk of seeing that R-value nudging up and seeing the case counts nudging up even if we don’t change anything,” says Saxinger.
Saxinger says cases could also rise even if the latest variant of concern, Omicron, doesn’t establish in Alberta over the coming weeks.
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When it comes to mingling unvaccinated and vaccinated guests around a dinner table, Saxinger says that is where things can get complicated.
“I would really look at limiting gatherings with unvaccinated family members to really outdoors kind of situations for visiting — weather permitting, of course. That makes it really difficult,” she said.
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