By Rob Vogt, Local Press Writer
Citing the rising vaccination rate in Alberta, the provincial government can take the next step in safely lifting restrictions in continuing care while keeping some rules in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
On July 13 the province announced that to support the health and safety of residents and staff, Alberta’s government will take a two-phase approach for easing remaining measures provincewide.
The first phase will lift remaining visitor restrictions, current limits to dining and recreation activities, and additional screening for residents who go off-site. Outbreak protocols, single-site staffing and other measures will remain in place until further notice.
There are currently six active cases of COVID-19 in continuing care facilities provincewide. Since December of 2020, there has been a 99 per cent decrease in the number of active cases of COVID-19 among staff and residents in these facilities.
To date, more than 90 per cent of Albertans over the age of 70 have received at least one dose of vaccine and 87 per cent are fully vaccinated with two doses.
“This is a measured, practical approach that lifts restrictions in an incremental manner as our vaccination rates continue to climb. The restrictions lifted today will go a long way to improving residents’ quality of life while critical protections will remain in place to protect their health,” said Dr. Deena Hinshaw, chief medical officer of health
The first phase of reduced health restrictions in continuing care comes into effect as soon as operators are able to make any necessary changes. These adjustments focus on lifting restrictions that now present a low to medium risk due to the high rates of vaccination in these facilities. Lifted restrictions include:
• Visitors will no longer be limited in number or conditions.
• Visitors will still need to be screened for symptoms or known exposure upon entering a facility and wear masks in all common areas.
• It is strongly recommended visitors who have not yet been fully vaccinated, including children under age 12, wear their mask continuously and in all areas of the building.
• All limits to dining and recreation activities for residents are removed.
• Residents are no longer required to be screened upon re-entering the building or are required to quarantine if they have gone off-site. However, in specific circumstances, such as returning from an outbreak unit of a health-care facility, residents who are not fully vaccinated may be required to quarantine.
Facility operators have until July 31 to fully implement these changes.
Other restrictions and rules will remain in place to protect the health and safety of residents and staff, including:
• Screening upon entry and continuous masking for staff, students, volunteers and service providers.
• Enhanced cleaning and disinfection routines in common areas.
• Single-site staffing requirements.
• Testing guidelines.
• Isolation and quarantine protocols.
• Outbreak procedures.
These remaining restrictions may be lifted in Phase 2 at a later date.
New Alberta restrictions in continuing centres
By Rob Vogt, Local Press Writer