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To offset expected losses faced by businesses as a result of the new measures, Kenney announced that the government would expand the Small and Medium Enterprise Relaunch Grant. Up to 15,000 more businesses could be eligible for funding.

Alberta businesses affected by public health orders are eligible to apply for a payment of up to $20,000, up from the original $5,000. The program is expanding to businesses that have experienced a 30 per cent revenue loss due to the COVID-19 pandemic, lowering the threshold from the previous requirement of 40 per cent revenue loss.

Kenney said the government held off imposing restrictions announced Tuesday “to limit the damage on our broader society.”

“Every restriction, like the ones that we are announcing today, will impose enormous damage to the lives and livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of Albertans,” said Kenney, who noted that according to surveys conducted by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, up to 40 per cent of Alberta small businesses may not recover from a shutdown.

“This is very real. People will lose their life-savings as a result of this.”

He cited the risk of emotional and mental-health challenges that could be caused by a full-scale lockdown.

The premier said the province has approached public health measures during the second wave of the pandemic “with great caution” and that more restrictive guidelines come “not as a first resort, but as a last resort.”

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Calgary politicians, emergency physician praise new restrictions

Emergency physician Dr. Joe Vipond, co-founder of Masks 4 Canada, applauded the new measures.

“It seems to be taking the exponential rise in cases seriously and it seems to be putting in place the restrictions that are most important, especially shutting down places where it’s impossible to wear a mask such as restaurants and casinos and bars,” he said.

“This is the right move. This is what needed to take place.”

Vipond cautioned that the effects of the new measures won’t be apparent for at least two weeks, “if not longer.”

“We’ll still have rising growth (in cases) and rising health-care utilization through that period. It’s unfortunate, but it’s going to get ugly. This is a first step in managing the problem but we’re not out of the woods yet.”

Mayor Naheed Nenshi called the latest provincial move “the right thing to do.”

“We needed to take tough action to protect the vulnerable and support our health care system,” he wrote on Twitter. He also encouraged reaching out to anyone who’s isolated, adding that people will need support during this time.

Nenshi said earlier this week that if the provincial government didn’t take additional steps to flatten the curve, he would call a special meeting of council to discuss possible action at the city level.

Coun. George Chahal, who represents residents in parts of Calgary’s northeast with far higher COVID rates than any other part of the city, said he would be available to support communities over the next “difficult” month.