Alberta announced this afternoon that it will be removing some of its COVID-19 restrictions, including its version of a vaccine passport program.
Premier Jason Kenney made the announcement alongside Health Minister Jason Copping and Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw.
The move comes after teasing last week that full details on the province lifting restrictions would be coming early this week.
“It is clear we passed the peak of Omicron infections,” said Kenney, pointing to various countries lifting all or almost lifting all public health restrictions over the past weeks.
“We see new COVID hospital admissions coming down, another important indicator,” he added.
“The threat of COVID-19 to public health no longer outweighs the damages of restrictions to our broader social health. Now is the time to start learning to live with COVID. Alberta will move on, but we’ll do so carefully.”
Here’s what is changing
Effective 12 am Wednesday, the Restrictions Exemption Program (REP) will be lifted.
The REP, Alberta’s version of a vaccine passport, was first brought into the province during the Delta wave in the fall.
“The REP has served its useful purpose. It’s done its job,” added Kenney.
Capacity limits will also be removed for all venues with capacities of 500 people or fewer. Facilities with capacity of 1,000-plus, will be limited to 50%.
Entertainment venues will continue to have some specific rules in place, including restrictions on closing times, alcohol service, table capacity in restaurants and interactive activities will remain in force.
Restrictions on sale of food and beverages and consumption while seated in audience settings will be removed.
Mandatory masking for children and youth in schools, and for youth aged 12 and under in any setting will end February 13 at 11:59 pm.
In three weeks’ time, if Alberta continues to see a downward trend in hospitalizations, stage two will be brought in.
March 1 is the target date for stage two, which will also see the provincial indoor mask mandate be lifted as well as remaining capacity limits for large venues.
Other restrictions set to be lifted then include limits on social gatherings and the mandatory work from home order.
On Tuesday, Saskatchewan also announced its plan to remove its own COVID-19 vaccine passport system later this week.
Alberta reported 1,667 new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday.