TORONTO (AP) — The leader of the Canadian province of Alberta apologized Wednesday for his handling of the pandemic and says he’s now reluctantly introducing a vaccine passport and imposing a mandatory work from home order two months after lifting nearly all restrictions.
Alberta declared a public health state of emergency as Premier Jason Kenney said hospitals may run out of beds and staff in intensive care units within 10 days.
“It is now clear that we were wrong, and for that I apologize,” Kenney said.
Indoor dining at pubs and restaurants is now banned.
Kenney said COVID is hitting Alberta harder than anywhere else in Canada because they have the lowest rate of vaccination in the country.
Several Canadian provinces are bringing in vaccine passports, which compel people to prove they have been vaccinated before being allowed to use nonessential services such as pubs and restaurants. Kenney had resisted such measures.
The premier and leader of the United Conservative Party said in June the pandemic was ending and people needed to accept that. He also criticized the media for promoting fear but said Wednesday Alberta is facing its greatest health care challenge.
“The government’s first obligation must be to avoid large numbers of preventable deaths. We must deal with the reality we are facing. We cannot wish it away,” Kenney said.
Alberta has more than 18,000 active cases, far more than any other Canadian province.