Restriction Exemption Program ends; health restrictions to ease

By Rob Vogt Local Press Writer
You no longer have to produce proof of vaccination from the COVID-19 virus where it was required.
That was the first measure in a plan announced by the provincial government on Feb. 8 to, as Premier Jason Kenney said, gradually lift the provincewide public health measures as the fifth wave of the COVID-19 virus subsides and pressure on the health-care system eases.
The announcement stated Alberta would begin a plan to phase out public health measures, starting Feb. 8. The three-step approach began with lower-risk activities while maintaining protections for the health-care system, including continuing care facilities.
Beginning Feb. 8 at 11:59 p.m., Alberta moved to step one, which included the removal of the Restrictions Exemption Program and capacity limits on venues under 500 capacity, including libraries and places of worship, and allowed for food and beverage consumption in seated audience settings for large events and entertainment venues. Mandatory masking for children and youth in schools, and for youth aged 12 and under in any setting were to end Feb. 13 at 11:59 p.m.
“The last two years have taken a significant toll on Albertans’ overall health, social and economic well-being. Now that we are through the worst of the fifth wave and have achieved high vaccination rates, it is time to shift to a balanced approach where we are able to live with COVID-19 and return to normal,” Kenney said.
“The vast majority of Albertans are now fully vaccinated. It’s a major factor that now allows us to ease restrictions, but we will do so only as conditions show that our health system’s capacity is recovering. Albertans can help make that possible by getting every vaccine dose they are eligible for,” said Jason Copping, health minister.
The next step, according to the government, will see changes to working from home, masking requirements, large venue capacity limits and indoor social gathering limits, with a final step removing isolation requirements and COVID-19-specific measures in continuing care settings. The lifting of restrictions will progress once pressures on the health-care system have sufficiently eased.
Step two takes effect March 1.
Any remaining provincial school requirements (including cohorting) will be removed.
Screening prior to youth activities will no longer be required.
Capacity limits will be lifted for all venues.
Limits on social gatherings will be removed.
The provincial mask mandate will be removed.
Mandatory work from home will be removed.
Step three is to be determined based on hospitalization rates continuing to trend downwards.
COVID-19-specific measures in continuing care will be removed.
Mandatory isolation becomes a recommendation only.
Additional details on all restrictions and measures in place will be released prior to each step at