Keep calm and carry on: Alberta’s Stage 2 relaunch to go ahead Friday, ahead of target date

Premier Jason Kenney provides update

Summer 2020 in Alberta won’t be that bad after all.

Alberta’s Stage 2 relaunch amid the COVID-19 pandemic has been moved up, starting this Friday. The activities and services opening also include some that were originally slated for Stage 3.

“Albertans should be very proud of their response to the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Premier Jason Kenney Tuesday.

“We’ve come through it better than most, far better than most.

“We’re effectively containing the virus as best as possible and, as a result, I’m very happy to announce that Alberta is accelerating our relaunch strategy further, to open our economy.”

The original target date for the second stage of relaunch was June 19.

Stage 2 reopening include: libraries, movie theatres, community halls, wellness services such as massage and acupuncture, personal services like esthetics, cosmetic skin and body treatments, manicures, pedicures, waxing, facial treatment and artificial tanning.

This stage of relaunch also includes more surgeries and K-12 schools, for requested diploma exams and summer school, following guidance.

Indoor recreation and team sports, including use of pools, gyms and arenas, casinos and bingo halls (except table games) and VLTs in restaurants, which were originally set for Stage 3 are also allowed to open Friday.

All the renewed activities and services will have to follow public health guidelines including physical distancing, frequent cleaning and use of face coverings where appropriate.

The government predicts numbers will go up as Albertans enjoy more freedom this summer.

“There will be more cases, more hospitalizations and sadly there will be more deaths,” said Kenney. “But if we stay vigilant, and disciplined, if we stay dedicated especially to protecting the most vulnerable, we will be able to continue to lifting restrictions and expanding opportunities throughout the relaunch.”

Premier urged Albertans to continue to follow public guidelines including hand washing, staying at home when feeling sick and staying two metres apart as more services reopen.

Data from June 8 shows 355 active cases and 44 people in hospital across Alberta. This is a decrease of almost 70 per cent in active cases since May 14 – when the province began stage one of the relaunch strategy. With its robust approach to testing, Alberta has performed more COVID-19 tests per capita than most other jurisdictions in the world.

To those people who are worried about the spread of the virus as the economy reopens, Kenney says “keep calm and carry on.”

“The issue is not a small increase of positive cases from time to time, the issue is whether or not our healthcare system becomes overwhelmed,” he explained, adding the acute care beds, the spaces in intensive care units and hundreds of ventilators in the province were never used in the last three months.

“What we need to do is support each other in using these common sense guidelines and enjoy life,” the premier said.

The 50 per cent capacity limit for provincial campgrounds is also being lifted, as part of the relaunch starting Friday. Over the coming days, the online reservation system will be updated and sites will come online in phases. By July 1, all camping sites will be open for reservations.

Events and gatherings can be larger in stage two: the maximum number of people that can gather in an indoor social gathering event such as weddings, funerals and birthday parties is at 50.

Outdoor events and indoor seated events including weddings and funerals are allowed 100 people.

There is no cap on number of people that can gather in a worship setting, restaurants, casinos and bingo halls, as long as physical distancing is maintained.

There is more flexibility for ‘cohort’ groups – small groups of people whose members do not always keep two metres apart: a household can increase its close interactions with other households to a maximum of 15 people, performers can have a cohort of up to 50 people (cast members or performers), sports teams can play in region-only cohorts of up to 50 players (mini leagues) and people could be part of a sports/performing and household cohorts.

Everyone is encouraged to follow public health guidelines and notify others in the cohort if they have symptoms or test positive for COVID-19.

More to come

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