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Alberta braces for more Omicron, ramps up COVID-19 testing but loosens health rules

Premier Jason Kenney says it’s best to be cautious given Omicron’s rapid spread
Supporters gather as a fence is put up around GraceLife Church near Edmonton on Wednesday April 7, 2021. The Alberta government closed down and fenced off a church that had been charged with refusing to follow COVID-19 health rules. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson

Alberta is making changes to testing, booster shots and gathering restrictions as it braces for an increase in cases of the more transmissible Omicron variant of COVID-19.

Premier Jason Kenney says Alberta’s vaccination rate means it is well positioned to handle the variant, allowing the province to loosen gathering restrictions.

But he says it’s best to be cautious given Omicron’s rapid spread and other unknowns.

Kenney says a rapid testing program will be expanded Friday, with free test kits available to Albertans at select health services sites and pharmacies.

The booster shot program is being expanded immediately to anyone 50 years and older and to all health-care workers provided it’s six months after their second shots.

Starting immediately, people will now be allowed to host up to 10 adults from more than two different households at private gatherings — and that total does not include anyone 17 and under.

—The Canadian Press

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