Starting Monday, travelers arriving in Alberta through land border crossings will need to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test completed in the United States within the previous 72 hours.
Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw announced the change during Thursday's daily COVID-19 update. The new requirement for land border crossings in Alberta comes after the federal government announced new travel measures to discourage travel during the pandemic.
In the coming weeks, all air travellers arriving from outside of Canada will also be required to undergo a COVID-19 test on entry at the border. They must also quarantine for 14 days at a federally designated hotel.
"When the new federal restrictions come into place, we will be suspending the Alberta border pilot at the Calgary airport. This means that all air travelers arriving to Alberta from outside of Canada will need to comply with the mandatory federal testing requirements and 14 day quarantine periods at that time," Hinshaw said.
The border pilot will continue at the Coutts border entry until a decision is made by the federal government on whether additional restrictions are needed, she said.
"Thanks to the testing processes already in place because of our border pilot. Alberta's labs are well positioned to support this new federal requirements," Hinshaw said.
Due to interruptions in vaccine supply, no new first dose appointments will be booked for the next few weeks, according to the province. Hinshaw said she understands the province recently received a shipment of special syringes designed to push all fluid from the chamber.
During the update, Hinshaw was asked why the province has yet to announce any further information on Phase 2 of their vaccine rollout plan when other provinces have released more information on their plans.
Hinshaw said final decisions have not yet been made as it's important for the province to take time to consider all options available.
"I anticipate there will be some decisions made in the coming weeks and I know Albertans are keenly awaiting that information."
Alberta reported 352 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday and 16 more deaths from COVID-19. This brings the total number of active cases in the province to 5,501.
There are 397 people in hospital due to COVID-19, including 71 in intensive care. To date, 120,676 Albertans have recovered from COVID-19.
Largest variant increase to date
Alberta recorded 36 new cases of COVID-19 variants in the last 24 hours, marking the largest daily increase the province has seen to date involving two new strains of the virus.
During Thursday's daily update, Hinshaw said this increase is from positive tests gathered over the span of a week. Sometimes the time between the original COVID-19 test and the screening for the two variants can be delayed because of the time it takes to transport, she said.
The province has recorded 156 total cases of two new strains first found in the United Kingdom and South Africa. Of those, 93 cases are not related to travel, Hinshaw said.
In the Edmonton Zone, there are 56 confirmed cases of the two COVID-19 variants, with all but two cases linked to the U.K. variant.
In St. Albert, the province has recorded four cases linked to the U.K. COVID-19 variant at the Tot Spots Academy daycare. None of those cases were travel-related, according to the province.