Provincial government announces guide for easing health measures

By Rob Vogt, Local Press Writer
The provincial government has announced the easing of health measures to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus will be based on hospitalization rates.
That means the fewer people in hospital due to the virus, the more restrictions will be reduced.
On Jan. 29, the province announced these steps and benchmarks will provide a transparent approach to easing restrictions for businesses and individuals while protecting the health-care system.
Each step has an associated benchmark of hospitalized COVID-19 patients, including intensive care patients. Changes to restrictions will be considered once a benchmark is reached.
The hospitalization benchmarks are:
• Step 1 – 600 people and declining;
• Step 2 – 450 and declining;
• Step 3 – 300 and declining;
• Step 4 – 150 and declining.
With hospitalizations dipping below 600, Alberta will move to Step 1 on Feb. 8.
If after three weeks the hospitalization numbers are in the range of the next benchmark, decisions will be considered for moving to Step 2. The same three-week re-evaluation period will be used for all subsequent steps.
Indoor masking and distancing requirements will remain in place throughout the entire stepped approach, and some degree of restrictions will still apply to all activities within each step.
The grouping and sequencing of steps is based on relative risk for COVID-19 transmission. Actions with the lowest relative risk will be those first considered for easing.
Step 1: Hospitalization benchmark – 600
• Potential easing of some restrictions related to: indoor and outdoor children’s sport and performance (school-related only); indoor personal fitness, one-on-one and by appointment only; and restaurants, cafes, and pubs.
Step 2: Hospitalization benchmark – 450
Potential easing of some restrictions related to: retail; community halls, hotels, banquet halls and conference centres; and further easing of some restrictions eased in Step 1.
Step 3: Hospitalization benchmark – 300
Potential easing of some restrictions related to: places of worship; adult team sports; museums, art galleries, zoos and interpretive centres; indoor seated events, including movie theatres and auditoriums; casinos, racing centres and bingo halls; libraries; and further easing of some restrictions eased in Steps 1 and 2.
Step 4: Hospitalization benchmark – 150
Potential easing of some restrictions related to: indoor entertainment centres and play centres; tradeshows, conferences and exhibiting events; performance activities (such as singing, dancing, wind instruments); outdoor sporting events ( such as rodeo); wedding ceremonies and receptions; funeral receptions; workplaces – lifting work-from-home measures; amusement parks; indoor concerts and sporting events; festivals, including arts and cultural festivals (indoor and outdoor); day camps and overnight camps; and further easing of some restrictions eased in Steps 1 to 3.