The restrictions will be relaxed as more Albertans receive their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, with a full reopening scheduled for early July.
ALBERTA – A three-step reopening strategy, dubbed Alberta’s “Summer Open Plan”, was announced Wednesday, laying the groundwork for a full provincial reopening that could be achieved in just a matter of weeks.
Premier Jason Kenney described the plan as “stepping into the warm light of summer” and noted that events such as weddings, backyard barbecues and the Calgary Stampede may soon become a reality as the plan is moving forward.
But, the success of the plan depends heavily on Albertans, and each step is tied to the percentage of Albertans who received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
Stage 1 will begin two weeks after 50% of Albertans aged 12 and over receive at least one dose of the vaccine and COVID-19-related hospitalizations are below 800 and declining. The province has already met those standards, with 58% of Albertans having received their first dose of the vaccine at the time of the announcement on May 26.
Stage 2 will begin two weeks after 60 percent of Albertans aged 12 and over have received at least one dose of the vaccine, and hospitalizations from COVID-19 are below 500 and declining. Kenney said that threshold could be reached as early as Thursday, based on the number of dates already booked.
Stage 3 of the reopening will begin two weeks after 70 percent of Albertans aged 12 and over have received at least one dose of the vaccine. This last step would be a complete reopening of the province, with no limit on gatherings and the mandate of the mandatory mask would also be lifted across the province.
Starting this week, the capacity limit for worship services will drop to 15% of the fire code occupancy on May 28. Next week, outdoor social gatherings, with distancing, will be allowed to include up to 10 people, although indoor gatherings are still not allowed.
Meals on the outdoor terrace can resume with a maximum of four people per table, as of June 1.
Outdoor physical, performance and recreational activities will be permitted with a maximum of 10 distant people, for all ages, starting Monday.
Retail may increase fire code occupancy by up to 15% next week, while physical distancing will continue to be encouraged. Personal and well-being services can reopen, by appointment, on June 1.
Stage 2 will be a “big step forward,” according to Kenney. The Prime Minister plans to reach stage 2 in mid-June. This step will allow larger outdoor public gatherings to take place; fitness in the room can resume; cinemas, libraries and others will also be allowed to reopen.
Outdoor social gatherings will increase to 20 people, restaurants will accommodate up to six people indoors or outdoors, and retail occupancy rates will also increase.
“Indoor and outdoor sports for youth and adults are resuming without restrictions,” according to the Government of Alberta. And, “post-secondary institutions can resume in-person learning. “
The work from home order will be lifted in step 2, but it will still be recommended to allow people to work from home, if possible.
When the province reaches 70 percent of eligible Albertans vaccinated, “all restrictions are lifted, including a ban on indoor social gatherings.”
Isolation requirements for confirmed cases of COVID-19 and certain protective measures in continuing care facilities will remain in place during Stage 3.
Kenney noted that if more Albertans get vaccinated, Stage 3 could take place as early as June 28. He encouraged Albertans to do their part and get vaccinated.
The Premier called on Albertans already vaccinated to encourage others to do the same and to “promote protection.”
“Now is our time, Alberta,” Kenney said Wednesday. He called on people to come together for the common good, saying, “It’s not just about you.
Hospitalizations due to COVID-19 will continue to be monitored as the province moves to reopen it.
Support for small businesses
The province also extended the Small and Medium Business Stimulus Grant (SMERG) on Wednesday.
“The expansion of the number of requests allows organizations subsequently affected by the May 2021 health orders to apply for this additional COVID relief funding. The program’s budget remains at $ 350 million, ”according to the provincial government.
“Alberta businesses have made sacrifices to stop the COVID-19 spike. Your efforts have made a difference, and we know that soon we can begin to lift restrictions and allow businesses to operate at full capacity. As more and more Albertans are vaccinated, I hope this is the last time we have to extend the SMERG program, ”said Doug Schweitzer, Minister of Employment, Economy and Innovation.
SMERG provides financial assistance to Alberta businesses, co-ops and non-profit organizations with fewer than 500 employees who have faced restrictions or closures due to COVID-related public health orders and have suffered loss of income of at least 30%.