The province of Alberta is moving ahead to stage two of their Relaunch Strategy, earlier than initially thought.
Premier Jason Kenney has announced that stage two will begin in all areas of Alberta on Friday, June 12th, one week ahead of schedule, following positive outcomes from COVID-19.
Strong testing data shows active COVID-19 cases in Alberta are lower than expected, with current data from June 8th showing 355 active cases and 44 people in hospital across Alberta. This is a decrease of almost 70 percent in active cases since May 14 – when the province began stage one of the Alberta Relaunch Strategy.
Premier Kenney says, “Albertans have demonstrated the care and common sense needed to move forward with our relaunch earlier than initially planned. Our data tells us our active cases are low, hospitalizations are trending downward and people are taking action to protect those most vulnerable and prevent the spread of the virus. We will continue to move forward together to overcome any tough times ahead, but responsible Albertans should be proud of the vigilance they have shown to date.”
As the province enters stage two of relaunch, safety remains the top priority. More businesses, sport, and recreation services can open if they are ready. Some larger gatherings for seated audience events will be permitted. In all cases, public health guidance must be followed.
A new interactive map will help Albertans understand the level of risk in their community and learn about any enhanced health measures at the local level, giving additional information on what they need to do to keep themselves and their loved ones safe and protected. Currently, no communities in Alberta need locally targeted enhanced measures.
What can open with restrictions in stage two:
• K-12 schools, for requested diploma exams and summer school, following guidance
• More surgeries
• Wellness services such as massage, acupuncture, and reflexology
• Personal services (esthetics, cosmetic skin and body treatments, manicures, pedicures, waxing, facial treatment, artificial tanning)
• Indoor recreation, fitness, and sports, including gyms and arenas
• Movie theatres and theatres
• Community halls
• Team sports
• Pools for leisure swimming
• VLTs in restaurants and bars
• Casinos and bingo halls (but not table games)
• Instrumental concerts
Events and gatherings can also be larger in stage two.
Maximum 50 people:
• Indoor social gatherings – including wedding and funeral receptions, and birthday parties
Maximum 100 people:
• Outdoor events and indoor seated/audience events – including wedding and funeral ceremonies
No cap on the number of people (with public health measures and physical distancing in place):
• Worship gatherings
• Restaurants, cafés, lounges and bars
• Bingo halls
There is more flexibility for ‘cohort’ groups – small groups of people whose members do not always keep two metres apart:
• A household can increase its close interactions with other households to a maximum of 15 people
• Performers can have a cohort of up to 50 people (cast members or performers)
• Sports teams can play in region-only cohorts of up to 50 players (mini-leagues)
• People could be part of a sports/performing and household cohort
The 50 percent capacity limit for provincial campgrounds is also being lifted. Over the coming days, the online reservation system will be updated and sites will come online in phases. By July 1, all camping sites will be open for reservations. First-come, first-served sites may open sooner. Information on additional sites will be added to alberta.parks.ca when they become available.
Everyone is still being encouraged to follow public health guidelines and notify others in the cohort(s) if they have symptoms or test positive for COVID-19. If they do test positive or have symptoms, mandatory isolation is required.
Still not approved in stage two:
• Social gatherings that exceed above-listed maximums
• Regular in-school classes for kindergarten to Grade 12. Classes will resume September 2020
• Vocal concerts (as singing carries a higher risk of transmission)
• Major festivals and concerts, large conferences, trade shows, and events (as these are non-seated social events and/or vocal concerts)
• Amusement parks
• Hookah lounges (permitted for food and drink only)
• Major sporting events and tournaments
• Non-essential travel outside the province is not recommended. This recommendation will not be lifted until stage three of the relaunch strategy.
The success of stage two will determine when Alberta progresses to stage three. Factors are active cases, health-care system capacity, hospitalization and intensive care unit (ICU) cases, and infection rates.