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Unions in Alberta join call for two-week lockdown

A doctor works in a lab while wearing a mask. (CREDIT: DarkoStojanovic, iStockPhoto)

EDMONTON (660 NEWS) – As we expect more measures to be introduced from the provincial government to help slow the spread of COVID-19, some unions are also joining the call to introduce a short lockdown.

The two-week lockdown, known as a “circuit breaker”, was introduced to some regions in B.C. last weekend and there are growing calls for Alberta to do the same.

Earlier this week, over 70 doctors wrote to the premier and health minister asking for the lockdown to be implemented. On Wednesday, the non-profit group Masks4Canada called for the same restrictions.

Many unions including the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees (AUPE), the United Nurses of Alberta (UNA) and the Health Sciences Association of Alberta (HSAA) have also joined the call to push the government for stricter measures.

Vice President of the AUPE, Susan Slade, said a circuit breaker lockdown would be a big help, though it’s not a magic bullet.

“There is those considerations to the economy which we know has taken a huge hit before COVID and certainly during COVID. Those are all factors but we do need to do something, we just can’t continue to pretend that COVID isn’t happening and it’s not increasing daily.”

Slade said the health care system is already overloaded and if nothing changes in the short term, there could be more problems and staff will get stretched extremely thin.

“You can see that from the updates that we are getting from Dr. Hinshaw. The problem is, if it continues to be that way the system could just break and buckle under the strain.”

RELATED: Alberta government reportedly looking to introduce more COVID-19 restrictions

The AUPE said there are about 422 health care workers that have COVID-19 with hundreds of others on isolation, leading to workers taking more overtime shifts.

“People are doing the best they can do but at the end of the day, you can’t just pull in staff when you’ve got numerous people on forced isolation,” said Slade.

Premier Jason Kenney will join Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw during the COVID-19 update at 3:30 p.m. Thursday.

The UCP government is looking to reduce the risk of spread in high-risk places like gyms, bars, and places of worship.

The restrictions introduced in B.C. banned indoor group activities organized by businesses and recreational facilities. It also called for home gatherings to prohibit anyone outside the immediate household from being a part of it.

Slade encouraged Albertans to continue to follow health guidelines including wearing masks and keeping distanced regardless of what measures the government introduces.

-With files from NEWS 1130