Siksika Health Services and Siksika Nation continue to take strong proactive measures in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, considering Siksika’s specific context, in the interest of protecting our Nation members.
Siksika has acted in advance of the province since the beginning of the pandemic, in areas of testing, securing congregate living sites and essential services, limiting gatherings, and managing risk in schools and workplaces.
Siksika continues to provide a very high level of service for testing, contact tracing and support for those isolating, including mental health, food security, access to health services and isolation options, compared to any jurisdiction in Alberta.
On Nov 24, the Government of Alberta announced enhanced public health emergency measures, which have been in place in Siksika for more than 3 weeks through the implementation of our own COVID-19 circuit breaker. On Nov. 3, Siksika Nation announced high risk level of COVID-19 spread in the community, and put in place temporary enhanced measures for business, gatherings and activities. Since this time:
- For public and private gatherings, Siksikawa have been advised to refrain from all gatherings with others from outside their household. Wakes and funerals have been restricted to immediate family only, and in-person spiritual gatherings postponed, or moved to virtual settings. Sports leagues and activities have been similarly postponed during this time.
- For workplaces, Siksika has closed all non-essential services and workspaces, required continuous masking while indoors in all public Nation-owned buildings, and held meetings and conducted work virtually whenever possible.
- Schools and bussing services have been closed for in-person learning, with student education continuing from home for the duration of school closures.
- Extensive contact tracing by Siksikas CDC Team has not slowed since March. All new cases continue to be notified and isolated, and have detailed history taken within 24 hours of test results.
- COVID-19 testing has remained available 7 days/week by drive-thru and in-home, with rapid testing for 2 hour results turnaround applied in areas of high concern. Currently testing is available for people living and working in the Siksika area who are experiencing symptoms of any kind, close contacts of COVID cases, outbreak settings, healthcare workers, the Siksika Elders Lodge, anyone returning from high-risk areas, and anyone who is concerned that they may have been exposed.
Siksika Nation and Siksika Health Services will continue vigorously advocating for, preparing for and delivering services covering all aspects of the pandemic response, including immunization of Nation members with a safe COVID-19 vaccine, as soon as this is available.
Summary of Albertas enhanced measures, to be re-evaluated after 3 weeks:
- No indoor social gatherings allowed in any setting, including: private homes, public spaces or workplaces. Indoor close contacts must be limited to people in the same household. However, people who live alone can have up to the same two non-household contacts for the duration of the restriction.
- Outdoor gatherings limited to 10 people. This will be enforced with fines of $1,000.
- Schools: Beginning Nov. 30, all students in Grades 7-12 will immediately transition to online learning until they begin their winter break. In-person learning for all students will be delayed a week until Jan. 11.
- Weddings and funerals: Maximum of 10 people for wedding ceremonies or funeral services.
- Places of worship: Faith-based groups can operate with mandatory reduced capacity, of one-third of the building’s occupancy. Mask use is mandatory. This is only in effect in regions with enhanced status on the province’s COVID-19 map.
- Working from home: All businesses are encouraged to have employees work from home as much as possible. This will include provincial government employees.
- Businesses that must close include banquet halls, conference centres, trade shows, auditoriums and concert venues, community centres, children’s play places and indoor playgrounds. Sports are also included in this category.
- Food and beverage: Restaurants, bars, pubs and lounges will be open. Tables can seat a maximum of six people from the same household, while people who live alone can meet with up to two non-household contacts who are part of their cohort. Last call will continue to be at 10 p.m. and licensed food-serving establishments must close at 11.
- Businesses that can remain open with restrictions include most retail businesses, with capacity limited to 25 per cent of fire code occupancy. That includes liquor and cannabis shops, grocery stores, pharmacies, clothing stores, computer and technology stores, hardware, automotive and approved farmers and seasonal markets. Also included are movie theatres, museums and galleries, libraries, casinos (though table games must close) and indoor entertainment centres.
- Fitness and recreation centres can operate with reduced capacity, but only for individual workouts, with no group fitness, group classes, group training, team practices or games.
- Restrictions around businesses are only in effect in regions with enhanced COVID-19 status.