Okotoks is being watched, but not necessarily in a good way.
However, that can all change if the community can rally and get its COVID-19 numbers down.
Premier Jason Kenney announced on Nov. 6 all municipalities on the provincial watch-list for active COVID-19 cases are restricted to social gatherings of 15 people or less, except for functions such as funerals, churches and others.
A ‘watch’ status with Alberta Health Services is defined as "the Province is monitoring the risk and discussing with local government(s) and other community leaders the possible need for additional health measures."
It’s triggered at a ratio of 50 active cases per 100,000. With Okotoks' magic number at around 15, it is well past that with 27 cases announced on Nov. 9.
The Foothills County, even more so as it sits at 26 cases. In fact, those numbers put Okotoks and the County on the Enhanced list.
Hopefully, these numbers will go down due to the mandatory mask law in Okotoks having been in place for two weeks, but don’t count on it. Halloween, a popular time for social gatherings, has also just passed.
Kenney admitted the restrictions are more suggestions, as enforcement is nearly impossible.
But is shouldn’t need to be enforced.
Residents of Okotoks and Foothills County can do the right thing and restrict social gatherings.
If not, Kenney may be forced to do things such as institute the 14-day lockdown — a circuit breaker — as was recommended by approximately 70 Alberta physicians.
Kenney has shown reluctance to shut down businesses, in order to keep the economy going.
However, he may have no choice but to look at harsher options if COVID-19 numbers continue to skyrocket.
But Albertans – including residents of Okotoks and Foothills County — do have a choice.
They can limit social gatherings for a short time and wear a mask to keep the Foothills economy open.