October 11, 2023
EDMONTON – Alberta Health Services (AHS) has adopted an enhanced masking directive to help prevent transmission of COVID-19 within our acute care facilities.
The Use of Masks to Prevent Transmission of COVID-19 Directive, which comes into effect on Oct. 11, 2023, will allow zone leadership to require enhanced masking by all AHS staff, physicians, midwives, students, volunteers, contracted service providers, as well as workers at Alberta Precision Laboratories in acute care facilities.
Additionally, where the enhanced measures are implemented, masking would be required for patients, designated support persons and visitors in Emergency Departments in acute care facilities. No patient shall be denied services.
Masking will also continue to be required for workers, family/support persons and visitors when:
This directive supports zone and site leadership to determine if enhanced masking is necessary, and can include patient care areas, elevators/staircases/hallways, common areas, gift shops, and cafeterias where patient contact could occur in acute care facilities.
Decisions to implement enhanced masking will be based on several factors which consider rate of hospitalizations, number of outbreaks, occupancy, test positivity, and situational context. Site signage will indicate when enhanced masking is being implemented.
Wearing a mask is optional for AHS workers when they are in an area where there is no contact with patients (staff break rooms/meeting rooms, corporate settings, health records departments).
Masking is also optional at continuing care and Addiction and Mental Health settings that are not within an acute care site. However, AHS continues to respect the choice to voluntarily wear a mask in all areas and encourages those who want to wear a mask to continue to wear one.
AHS continues to rely on data, and will engage clinical experts, unions, frontline healthcare workers and other key stakeholders to help determine requirements for enhanced masking.
Masking is just one strategy out of a package of preventive measures. As always, all staff are encouraged to mask, stay home when ill and, to continue to practice diligent hand hygiene as part of ongoing efforts to keep patients, families and each other safe and healthy. For more information and specific guidance, please refer to the Masking FAQ.
Alberta Health Services is the provincial health authority responsible for planning and delivering health supports and services for more than four million adults and children living in Alberta. Our mission is to provide a patient-focused, quality health system that is accessible and sustainable for all Albertans. Our current focus is on reducing emergency department wait-times, improving EMS response times, increasing access to surgeries, and improving patient flow.