Alberta / covid 19

Alberta Province takes steps to safely return to normal; Opposition says decision made without consulting municipalities

News Release

Alberta takes steps to safely return to normal

Provincewide public health measures will be gradually lifted as the fifth wave of COVID-19 subsides and pressure on the health-care system eases.

Alberta will begin a careful and prudent plan to phase out public health measures, starting Feb. 8. The three-step approach will begin 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 will move to step one, which includes the removal of the Restrictions Exemption Program and capacity limits on venues under 500 capacity, including libraries and places of worship, and allows 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 will 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.”Jason Kenney, Premier

“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.”Jason Copping, Health Minister

Subsequent steps 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-specific measures in continuing care settings. The lifting of restrictions will progress once pressures on the health-care system have sufficiently eased.

Step one

Effective Feb. 8 at 11:59 p.m.:

  • Restrictions Exemption Program (REP) ends, along with most associated restrictions.
  • Entertainment venues will continue to have some specific rules in place:
    • Restrictions on sale of food and beverages and consumption while seated in audience settings will be removed.
    • Restrictions on closing times, alcohol service, table capacity in restaurants and interactive activities will remain in force.
  • For all businesses, venues and facilities – whether they were previously eligible for the REP or not – capacity limits are removed, except for:
    • Facilities with capacity of 500 to 1,000, which will be limited to 500.
    • Facilities with capacity of 1,000-plus, which will be limited to 50 per cent.

Effective at 11:59 p.m. on Feb. 13:

  • Masks will no longer be required for all children and youth in schools.
  • Masks will no longer be required in any setting for children aged 12 and under.

Step two

Effective 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.
  • Provincial mask mandate will be removed.
  • Mandatory work from home removed.

Step three

To be determined based on hospitalization rates continuing to trend downwards

  • COVID-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 alberta.ca/CovidMeasures.

News Release

NDP Health Critic David Shepherd issued the following statement in response to today’s COVID-19 update:

 

“Earlier this evening, Jason Kenney and the UCP outlined their plan to remove all public health restrictions that were put in place to help reduce spread and protect our healthcare system from being overwhelmed due to COVID-19.

 

“This decision was made without consulting municipalities, some of which have their own local public health measures in place, and it was made without clear communication to Albertans about the path ahead.

 

“Public health mandates should not be set by individuals illegally blocking access to our border. It should be made when we see clear evidence that it is safe to move away from those public health restrictions.

 

“Time and time again, this Premier acts last and acts least  at every step of the pandemic. 

 

Where he will act first is when it comes to trying to save his political career. His leadership vote is pending and as a result he, and the entire UCP, are allowing an illegal blockade to dictate public health. That is cowardly.”

 

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