Note: While local parks, shops, and events are beginning to reopen, Alberta Health Services is reminding individuals to monitor their health for signs and symptoms of COVID-19. And if you’re not feeling well, they recommend staying home at this time. If you decide to go out, maintain the 6-feet physical distancing guidelines.
Alberta Premier Jason Kenney just announced that the province is lifting some COVID-19 restrictions beginning today.
He also detailed plans for Alberta’s relaunch strategy, which will come in three stages determined on the province’s rate of infections and hospitalizations with each new stage.
He noted that Alberta’s ability to abide by current regulations has resulted in the ability to ease these restrictions.
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“Your efforts have succeeded in containing the spread of the virus far below the devastating scale of the outbreak in many other places and well below the capacity of our healthcare system to cope,” said Kenney.
Currently, Alberta has 90 people in hospital as a result of coronavirus, and 18 on ventilators — just 5% and 3% of the province’s capacity, respectively.
And while Kenney noted that “a full return to normal won’t come until there is an effective vaccine or treatment, or until the virus is no longer there to threaten us,” he also announced a number of reopenings coming into effect either immediately, or over the coming days.
Vehicle access to Alberta’s parks will be reopened as of this weekend, with boat launches opened this Friday.
Online camping reservations will become available beginning May 14, though spaces will be limited and communal areas will remain prohibited.
Private and municipal parks will be reopened as well, along with golf courses becoming operational as of this weekend (weather permitting), though club houses and pro shops will remain closed until Stage 1 of the relaunch strategy comes into effect.
Some non-urgent surgeries will be allowed as of Monday, May 4, as well as dental and other health services as long as they abide by AHS guidelines.
The provincial government will then determine when additional restrictions can be lifted in Stage 1, which Kenney said could come as early as May 14.
Safeguards will be put into place before Stage 1 begins, which will include enhanced testing capacity, contact tracing, support for positive cases, stronger border control, and increased protections for vulnerable citizens.
“There are signs that our collective efforts of physical distancing, good hygiene practices, and staying home when advised are helping to slow the spread,” said Dr. Deena Hinshaw in a release from the province.
“However, we must guard against complacency and be patient to ensure the sacrifices we have already made to contain the virus are not wasted by carelessness as we gradually reopen businesses and services.”
Stage 1 will include the following reopenings:
- Retail businesses, such as clothing, furniture, and bookstores. All vendors at farmers’ markets will also be able to operate.
- Some personal services like hairstyling and barber shops.
- Museums and art galleries.
- More scheduled surgeries, dental procedures, physiotherapy, chiropractic, optometry and similar services.
- Daycares and out-of-school care with limits on occupancy.
- Summer camps with limits on occupancy. This could include summer school.
- Cafes, restaurants (minors allowed in liquor licensed establishments) with no bar service to reopen for public seating at 50 per cent capacity.
- Some additional outdoor recreation.
It is noted that physical distancing requirements will remain in place, as will limitations on gatherings of more than 15 people.
Moving onto Stage 2 will be determined by the success of Stage 1, alongside what Alberta Health Services’ capacity looks like at the time.
Stage 2 will include the following reopenings:
- Potential kindergarten to Grade 12 schools, with restrictions.
- More scheduled surgeries, including backlog elimination.
- Personal services, such as artificial tanning, esthetics, cosmetic skin and body treatments, manicures, pedicures, waxing, facial treatments, massage, and reflexology.
- Permitting of some larger gatherings (number of people to be determined as we learn more about the levels of risk for different activities) in some situations.
- Movie theatres and theatres open with restrictions.
Kenney also noted that there is a possibility of going down in stages if hospital capacity is stressed or if outbreaks occur.
Stage 3 will again be determined on the success of the previous stages and will include the following:
- Fully reopening all businesses and services, with some limited restrictions still in place.
- Permitting larger gatherings (number of people to be determined).
- Permitting arts and culture festivals, concerts and major sporting events with some restrictions.
- Permitting nightclubs, gyms, pools, recreation centres and arenas to reopen with restrictions.
- Resuming industry conferences with restrictions.
- No restrictions on non-essential travel.
Albertans are still being urged to follow physical distancing measures and to practice proper personal hygiene.