Alberta to move ahead with relaunch Thursday, with some restrictions
EDMONTON -- Alberta will begin to reopen the economy Thursday, but COVID-19 restrictions will remain in place for Calgary and Brooks.
Premier Jason Kenney announced the province would move ahead with Stage 1 of the relaunch Wednesday afternoon, as Dr. Deena Hinshaw confirmed 62 new cases of the coronavirus.
Alberta — which peaked at 336 cases on April 23 and 96 hospitalizations on April 30 — now has a total of 6,407 cases, including 5,076 recovered and 1,211 active, 118 deaths, and 70 COVID-19 patients in hospital, including 11 in intensive care.
"All of these numbers add up to a very successful stand, so far, against COVID-19 in Alberta," Kenney said.
- Infographics: COVID-19 in Alberta by the numbers
- This is what we know about Alberta's COVID-19 cases
- More at Edmonton.ctvnews.ca/coronavirus
Starting Thursday, retail stores, hair salons and barbershops, daycares, places of worship under strict guidelines, and restaurants, cafes, pubs and bars, at 50 per cent capacity, will be allowed to reopen in most of Alberta.
"I feel confident that it is the right time to move into Stage 1," Hinshaw said.
At the recommendation of the chief medical officer of health, Calgary and Brooks' relaunch, two areas that account for three-quarters of cases and hospitalizations, will be slightly slower.
Calgary and Brooks will join the rest of the province reopening some parts of the economy Thursday, including retail stores, daycares and farmers markets. But hairstyling services and restaurants were pushed back until May 25, and day camps, summer school and places of worship were delayed until June 1.
"I know that many folks in Calgary and Brooks will be a little disappointed that reopening will take a little bit longer for things like restaurants and hair salons and limited worship services," the premier said.
"But Dr. Hinshaw and her colleagues are concerned that we continue to see significantly more cases of community transmission with unknown sources in Calgary and Brooks as compared to the rest of the province."
The premier and chief medical officer of health reiterated the importance of not getting too comfortable as the province continues to reopen during the ongoing pandemic.
The need for physical distancing and good hygiene will be crucial as people leave their homes more, and if there is a spike in cases, Kenney and Hinshaw said restrictions, across the province or in certain regions, could come back.
"We do not want to go back," Hinshaw said. "This is why we need Albertans to continue to do their part. It will take all our efforts to continue to keep our infection rate low and prevent a surge in cases that could require us to consider restricting movement and businesses again."
However, Kenney said, if Stage 1 is successful, Alberta could move sooner into Stages 2 and 3.
Stage 2 is scheduled to begin June 19. It includes libraries, movie theatres, theatres, and services such as manicures and pedicures, massage and tanning.