EDMONTON -- Alberta is introducing a number of targeted restrictions after the province reported more than 2,000 COVID-19 cases and broke pandemic records for active cases and intensive care unit patients on Thursday.

The new restrictions apply in regions with a case rate of 350 per 100,000 residents and a minimum of 250 active cases.

The restrictions will initially apply to eight regions: Edmonton, Calgary, Fort McMurray, Red Deer, Grande Prairie, Airdrie, Lethbridge and Strathcona County. 

"I hope that these measures, together with everything else that's been in place — many of those rules for months, some of them for a year — I hope that all of that will be sufficient," Kenney said.

In these regions, junior and high schools will shift to online learning starting Monday, and indoor fitness and team sports will be suspended.

The restrictions will remain in place for two weeks, even if a city drops below the 350-case rate threshold during that period. They will return to the provincewide restrictions after the two weeks.

Curfews could be enacted in regions with a case rate of 1,000 per 100,000 residents, if the municipality asks the province.

"If Albertans respond to this call for buckling down in the next few weeks, but if that's not the case, and if we continue to see current levels of case growth, then we will consider bringing forward additional restrictions.

"And I'll say something very clearly that I've not said before: At this point, I encourage people, if they can possibly do so, to stay home."


Thursday's 2,048 new COVID-19 cases break Dec. 14's record of 1,887 infections, and 21,385 active cases break the record of 20,976 also set in mid-December.

This week Alberta has reported the first and sixth highest one-day case increases to date. Four of the 10 highest active case counts to date have also been recorded this week.

Alberta also set an ICU record with 151 admissions, while a total of 632 people diagnosed with COVID-19 are in hospital.

The 151 patients ties the pandemic high mark set in December. 

Five of the 10 highest daily increases in the number of ICU patients have been this month. 

Alberta Health Services staff are set to be trained on an updated triage protocol to be used in the event hospitals are overrun by COVID-19.