By Rob Vogt, Local Press Writer
The Alberta government has begun Stage 1 of its plan to loosen health guidelines to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus, with Stage 2 expected to begin on June 10.
On June 1, the provincial government announced Albertans can now enjoy outdoor patios, haircuts and more physical activities as vaccination rates continue to climb and hospitalizations decline.
The Stage 1 threshold of 50 per cent of Albertans age 12-plus having received at least one dose of vaccine was met on May 18. Together, Albertans have driven cases down and kept hospitalizations well below 800 through the two-week waiting period.
Stage 1 measures are effective immediately. They are in addition to the easing of capacity limits for worship services that began on May 28.
“I encourage all Albertans to get vaccinated against COVID-19 to protect themselves, their loved ones and their community. By getting vaccinated, they will also help our province re-open and get us through the pandemic,” said Dr. Deena Hinshaw, chief medical officer of health.
Officials will continue to monitor the progress of Alberta’s vaccine rollout while keeping a close eye on hospitalization numbers and COVID-19 transmission in the province.
As of May 28:
• The capacity limit for worship services increased to 15 per cent of fire code occupancy.
As of June 1:
• Outdoor social gatherings, with distancing, increased to up to 10 people.
• Indoor social gatherings are still not permitted.
• Outdoor patio dining can resume with a maximum of four people per table.
• Everyone at the table must be members of the same household or for a person living alone, dining parties are limited to two close contacts.
• Physical distancing and other restrictions still apply.
• Outdoor physical, performance and recreational activities are permitted with up to 10 distanced people, for all ages.
• Retail can increase to 15 per cent of fire code occupancy, and must maintain the ability to distance.
• Personal and wellness services can reopen, by appointment only.
• Wedding ceremonies may have up to 10 people, including the officiant, bride/groom, witnesses and any photographers/videographers. Receptions remain prohibited.
• Funeral ceremonies may have up to 20 people, not including facility staff, funeral clergy or organizers not considered guests. Receptions remain prohibited.
• Distancing and masking requirements remain in effect.
Based on the current pace of vaccinations and decreasing hospitalizations, Stage 2 is expected to begin on June 10, provided hospitalizations remain below 500 and declining.
Stage 3 is expected to begin in late June or early July. The provincial government said this is dependent on all Albertans continuing to get vaccinated and following the public health measures in place.
Albertans can track the province’s vaccination progress on alberta.ca.
Provincial COVID-19 transmission will continue to be monitored throughout the re-opening. If required, a re-opening step may be paused to respond to COVID-19 transmission trends at regional or provincial levels.
Sustained re-opening will depend on Albertans getting fully vaccinated with two doses during the summer months to prevent future spread of COVID-19.
Stage 1 of re-opening from pandemic has started
By Rob Vogt, Local Press Writer