Alberta begins Step 1 of plan to ease restrictions
Step 1 of Alberta’s four-step framework to ease restrictions is underway as pressure eases on the health system and hospitalizations remain below 600.
School-related and limited indoor and outdoor children’s sport and performance activities, one-on-one indoor personal fitness with a trainer, and dine-in service at restaurants, cafés and pubs are now permitted provincewide.
“This is a cautious step forward that protects both lives and livelihoods and it is only possible thanks to the hard work and sacrifice of Albertans. Together, we are beginning to pave a path forward for our people, our economy, and our health-care system. We’ve bent the curve and need to keep on bending it in the weeks ahead.”
Jason Kenney, Premier
“We are making progress, but we still have a long road ahead of us. Our health providers have done their part to keep the health system operating during the second wave, and now we must all do our part to keep each other safe and continue driving hospitalizations downward.”
Tyler Shandro, Minister of Health
“It is important for us all to remember that there is a reason we are moving slowly to lift restrictions – the fact that we have seven times more COVID-19 cases in hospital and intensive care than we did in May last year. It is more important than ever that we each follow public health measures every day. We need to harness our collective power to prevent cases from rising so we can protect one another and the health-care system.”
Dr. Deena Hinshaw, chief medical officer of health
Indoor masking and distancing requirements will remain in place throughout this stepped approach, and some degree of restrictions will still apply to all activities within each step.
Step 1 currently in effect: Hospitalization benchmark – 600 and declining
Indoor and outdoor children’s sport and performance
K-12 schools and post-secondary children’s sport and performance activities, such as physical education classes, can now use off-site facilities to support curriculum-related educational activities.
Lessons, practices and conditioning activities, but not games, may occur for indoor team-based minor sports/activities and school athletics.
All participants must be 18 years old or younger, excluding coaches or trainers.
Maximum of 10 individuals, including all coaches, trainers and participants.
Participants must stay physically distanced from each other at all times.
One-on-one individual and one-on-one household training is now permitted for indoor fitness activities (e.g., fitness in dance studios, training figure skating on ice, one-on-one lessons).
People in one-on-one sessions cannot interact with others and there must be a minimum of three metres between sessions in the same facility.
Trainers must be professional, certified and/or paid trainers who are providing active instruction and correction. Passive supervision of a physical activity is not considered training.
Sessions have to be scheduled or by appointment.
No drop-in for individuals or groups is allowed.
No sports games, competitions, team practice, league play or group exercise of any kind is currently permitted.
Trainers should remain masked during the session; clients are not required to wear a mask while exercising.
More than one trainer and client ‘pair’ are allowed into the facility, studio, rink, court, pool, ice surface, etc., as long as:
Each trainer and client stays three metres away from all other trainers and clients at all times, including in entryways and exits.
Each trainer only interacts with their assigned client, and each client only interacts with their assigned trainer.
No interaction between clients or between trainers is allowed.
No ‘cycling through’ multiple trainers, as in circuit training.
Restaurants, cafés and pubs
Restaurants, cafés and pubs can now reopen for dine-in services.
Establishments must collect the contact information of one person from the dining party.
Up to a maximum of six people per table is allowed; individuals must be from the same household or the two close contacts for people living alone.
Liquor service ends at 10 p.m.
In-person dining must close by 11 p.m.
Entertainment is not permitted (e.g., no VLTs, pool tables, live music).
A decision on Step 2 will be made if, on Feb. 28, there are 450 or fewer hospitalizations and the number is declining. The same re-evaluation period will be used for all subsequent steps.
Metrics based on cases and growth, including COVID-19 variants, are being monitored and will also be used to guide any decisions around the need to pause further steps or potentially increase restrictions.
Alberta’s government is responding to the COVID-19 pandemic by protecting lives and livelihoods with precise measures to bend the curve, sustain small businesses and protect Alberta’s health-care system.
Public Health Units to Gradually Return to the COVID-19 Response Framework
TORONTO — In consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health, the government is moving to a regional approach and maintaining the shutdown in the majority of the public health regions in Ontario, including the Stay-at-Home order and all existing public health and workplace safety measures. When it is safe to do so, the province will gradually transition each region from the shutdown measures to a revised and strengthened COVID-19 Response Framework: Keeping Ontario Safe and Open (the “Framework”).
Details were provided today by Premier Doug Ford, Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, Solicitor General Sylvia Jones, and Dr. David Williams, Chief Medical Officer of Health.
“Our number one priority will always be protecting the health and safety of all individuals, families and workers across the province,” said Premier Ford. “But we must also consider the severe impact COVID-19 is having on our businesses. That’s why we have been listening to business owners, and we are strengthening and adjusting the Framework to allow more businesses to safely reopen and get people back to work.”
To support the province’s economic recovery, the government has updated the Framework to allow for a safer approach to retail. Limited in-person shopping in Grey-Lockdown zones will be permitted with public health and safety measures, such as limiting capacity to 25 per cent in most retail settings. In addition, public health and safety measures in retail settings will be strengthened for other levels of the Framework. Individuals will also be required to wear a face covering and maintain physical distance when indoors in a business, with limited exceptions.
Other measures include a requirement for individuals to wear a face covering when attending an organized public event or gathering (where permitted) if they are within two metres distance of another individual who is not part of their household (both indoor and outdoor). All other requirements for gatherings and organized public events would be maintained.
Based on the improving local trends of key indicators, including lower transmission of COVID-19, improving hospital capacity, and available public health capacity to conduct rapid case and contact management, the following three regions will be moving back to the Framework at the Green-Prevent level on Wednesday, February 10, 2021 at 12:01 a.m. and will no longer be subject to the Stay-at-Home order:
Hastings Prince Edward Public Health;
Kingston, Frontenac and Lennox & Addington Public Health; and
Renfrew County and District Health Unit.
Due to the fact that public health trends are improving in some regions faster than others, the current Stay-at-Home order will be amended and individual orders making it applicable to each public health region will be made except for the three above. It is proposed that the Stay-at-Home order will continue to apply to 28 public health regions until Tuesday, February 16, 2021. For Toronto, Peel and York regions, it is proposed that the Stay-at-Home order will continue to apply until Monday, February 22, 2021. Final decisions will be subject to review of the trends in public health indicators at that time.
“While we have seen some progress in our fight against COVID-19, the situation in our hospitals remains precarious and the new variants pose a considerable threat to all of us,” said Minister Elliott. “As we cautiously and gradually transition out of the provincewide shutdown, we have developed an emergency brake system giving us the flexibility to contain community spread quickly in a specific region, providing an extra layer of protection.”
Recognizing the risk posed by new variants to the province’s pandemic response, Ontario is introducing an “emergency brake” to allow for immediate action if a public health unit region experiences rapid acceleration in COVID-19 transmission or if its health care system risks becoming overwhelmed. If this occurs, the Chief Medical Officer of Health, in consultation with the local medical officer of health, may advise immediately moving a region into Grey-Lockdown to interrupt transmission.
“While we are seeing our numbers trend in the right direction, our situation remains precarious as the variants of concern remain a serious risk,” said Dr. Williams. “This is not a re-opening or a ‘return to normal’ and we must continue to limit close contact to our immediate households and stay at home except for essential reasons. By continuing to follow all public health and workplace safety measures, we can continue to reduce the number of new cases and the strain on our health system.”
In addition, the provincial emergency declared under s 7.0.1 of the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act (EMPCA) will be allowed to terminate at the end of February 9, 2021. While the provincewide Stay-at-Home order will cease to apply in some regions as of February 10, 2021, everyone is strongly advised to continue to stay at home, avoid social gatherings, minimize travel between areas with different rules, and limit close contacts to their household. Employers in all industries should continue to make every effort to allow employees to work from home.
Enforcement of residential evictions will remain paused in the public health unit regions where the provincial Stay-at-Home order remains in effect. This will ensure people are not forced to leave their homes. In regions where the Stay-at-Home order is lifted, the regular process for residential eviction enforcement will resume.
Orders currently in force under the EMCPA have been extended to February 23, 2021 and will be extended further if necessary. O.Reg.55/21 (Compliance Orders for Retirement Homes) is currently in effect until February 19, 2021.
“While the declaration of emergency will be ending, the risks posed by COVID-19 and the new variants remain serious concerns,” said Solicitor General Jones. “That’s why extending the stay-at-home orders for most of the province is necessary to protect our communities, our most vulnerable populations, and stop the spread of COVID-19. We continue to urge all Ontarians to follow public health guidelines and stay home, stay safe, and save lives.”
The Chief Medical Officer of Health will continue to consult with public health and other experts, review data, and provide advice to the government on the appropriate and effective measures that are needed to protect the health of Ontarians. Municipalities and local medical officers of health may have additional restrictions or targeted requirements in their region.
Provincewide Shutdown measures went into effect on December 26, 2020 to stop the rapid spread of COVID-19 across the province.
The government declared its second provincial emergency on January 12, 2021 and issued a Stay-at-Home order to reduce mobility and address hospital capacity concerns.
Ontario has implemented a six-point plan to deal with the new variants which includes mandatory on-arrival testing of international travellers, enhanced screening and sequencing, maintaining public health measures to keep people safe, strengthening case and contact management to track the spread of new cases, enhanced protections for vulnerable populations, and leveraging the latest data to inform public health decisions.
In January, Ontario’s provincial offences officers visited 1,147 big-box stores and other essential retail businesses to ensure businesses are following the public health guidelines and properly protecting workers and customers from COVID-19. 112 tickets were issued to businesses and individuals during three inspection campaigns.
Once the shutdown is lifted, visitor restrictions for long-term care homes will once again apply to those homes in the public health regions that are in the Orange-Restrict level or higher. In addition, long-term care homes must implement enhanced testing requirements.
To find the right supports, visit COVID-19: Support for People, which has information about the many available and free mental health services and supports.
Get tested if you have COVID-19 symptoms, or if you have been advised of exposure by your local public health unit or through the COVID Alert App. Visit Ontario.ca/covidtest to find the nearest testing location.
Visit Ontario’s COVID-19 vaccine web page to view the latest provincial data and information on COVID-19 vaccines.
Visit Ontario’s website to learn more about how the province continues to protect the people of Ontario from COVID-19.