With the COVID-19 variant Omicron rapidly spreading, Alberta’s top doctor says it would make sense to require physical distance in large rooms, but it doesn’t have to be.

“Currently, if a facility is under the Restriction Exemption Program (REP), it is recommended that people be at least two meters apart between households. However, it is not necessary, ”said Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Chief Medical Officer of Health for Alberta.

“At the moment, however, with Omicron and its high infectivity, that would be good practice in terms of a recommendation,” she added.

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Under the latest provincial restrictions, the capacity of sites that can accommodate more than 1,000 people is reduced by half. Immunization status, or proof of a negative test and masks are also required.

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But people can still sit side by side.

“Overcrowding in common areas is a big part of the risk in a larger location, and reducing the total number of people is meant to reduce that potential for overcrowding,” said Jason Maloney, assistant director of communications at Alberta Health.

The province said that under the REP order, the purpose of capacity limits is to facilitate physical distancing.

“Even if an executive is not subject to capacity limits, it is recommended to promote physical distancing between the participants,” the order reads.

Maloney said the province is closely monitoring the evidence and will make changes if necessary.

Personal risk assessment

The head of Microbiology, Immunology and Infectious Diseases at the Cumming School of Medicine at the University of Calgary said there are many factors to consider if you are going to attend a big event that you might want to attend. have tickets.

“How many people are going to be there?” What are the chances that I can stay two meters or more from everyone? How long will I spend there and how good is the ventilation? Is it an indoor environment or an outdoor environment? Said Dr Chris Mody.

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Mody said that the larger the group size, the greater the chance of exposure.

“I think distancing is important. We have already said distances of two meters, but we know that in certain circumstances two meters may not be enough, ”said Mody.

“In a place where you are in a hall or stadium, for example, if that person is 30 or 40 meters away and infected, with reasonable ventilation, you are unlikely to be exposed to this virus because the distance is great. enough.”

Small rooms don’t have to reduce capacity

Smaller theaters, such as theaters, are not required to reduce their capacity if they are part of the restriction exemption program. But a chain has over this last wave.

“At Landmark, we have decided to restrict capacity five days a week. We have physical remote show times where we keep the capacity at around 50 percent, a lot of distance for all of these customers, ”said Bill Walker, CEO of Landmark Cinemas Canada.

Friday and Saturday are at full capacity.

Sanitation practices between shows are maintained as well as compulsory masks in common areas.

“We believe theaters should be one of those places that are considered on a relative basis certainly safer than others. Because you sit quietly in one direction and don’t speak, there is very little you can do in public that is safer than that, ”Walker said.

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Cineplex said it was not reducing capacity, based on Alberta provincial guidelines.

“As we have done from the beginning, Cineplex will continue to follow all guidelines set by all levels of government,” said Melissa Pressacco, director of communications at Cineplex.

Cineplex said in addition to proof of vaccine and mandatory masks, it has improved cleaning, safety signage and reserved seating.

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.


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