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Kenney rejects calls for lockdown on radio interview

Premier Jason Kenney rejected calls for a “hard lockdown” while on air on the radio Sunday, the same day that his province's former top doctor signed a letter calling for immediate “fire break” measures to deal with surging cases of COVID-19.

Kenney told radio host Roy Green that a lockdown would make “no sense for the 80 per cent of the population that is vaccinated,” and who he said are much less likely to transmit the disease and are far less likely to be hospitalized. He attributed the surge to the some 20 per cent who aren't vaccinated and who he deemed were less likely to follow public health measures.

Alberta's former chief medical officer of health, Dr. James Talbot, and critical care specialist Dr. Noel Gibney, signed an open letter Sunday to the province's new health minister, Jason Copping, calling on the minister to take action to “prevent more disease, deaths, and suffering.”

The doctors called for several measures, including the transfer of ICU patients to other provinces to relieve pressure on hospitals, and restrictions for a minimum of four weeks for bars, gyms, casinos, indoor dining and sports facilities.

“We are within days of being forced to implement a triage protocol which will force health care workers to make life and death decisions on who will get scarce resources, like ventilators. Those that do not are likely to die,” said the letter from the doctors, which began with congratulations for Copping on his appointment to the health portfolio last week. “Albertan's hospital system, especially ICUs are under more killing stress than at any time in the province's history.”

Kenney defended his government's elimination of restrictions on July 1, which many have blamed for the surge.

“I don't think we were wrong to drop public health restrictions in the summer, on July 1. We saw the numbers continue to go down for five to six weeks after that,” Kenney told Green. “How could I have possibly justified what the Opposition and others wanted, which was continued damaging restrictions when there was no evidence to support that?”

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