Alberta health officials announced 278 new COVID-19 cases on Monday and said that Alberta will be completing its transition to Step 2 of its “A Path Forward” plan, effective immediately.
Alberta has identified 60 additional cases of variants of concern in the past 48 hours, bringing the provincial total to 659. With case numbers continuing to plateau across the province, the positivity rate is at 5.4%.
Tyler Shandro, Alberta’s Minister of Health, explained that the province will now move fully into Step 2, allowing the ease of restrictions for retail, hotels and community halls, performance groups, and youth sports, and recreation.
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This comes after beginning a modified version of Step 2 on March 1 that kept all restrictions the same except for easing indoor fitness restrictions and library operations.
A full list of updated restrictions can be found on the Government of Alberta’s website.
The government will consider moving into Step 3 no earlier than March 23.
“The time is right to keep moving safely forward, and at the same time, there are reasons for us to remain cautious,” said Shandro.
“We’re not seeing the same sharp decline in cases that we saw in December. Cases have plateaued, and we still have to consider carefully how to get the balance right, but I believe that this step, the remainder of Step 2 today, is safe.”
There are currently 254 Albertans in hospital with COVID-19, 36 of whom are in intensive care. Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw also reported six new deaths caused by the virus, bringing the total to 1,920.
Provincial health officials continue to encourage Albertans born in 1946 or earlier to book their vaccination appointments.
Starting March 10, Albertans born in 1957 and First Nation, Métis or Inuit individuals born in 1972 can book an appointment for AstraZeneca vaccine if they have no severe chronic illness.
Dr. Hinshaw will provide another update on Wednesday, March 10.