EDMONTON -- Alberta reduced more COVID-19 restrictions and fully entered Step 2 on Monday.

Effective immediately, hotels, conference centres and banquet and community halls can open for activities allowed in the first two steps of Alberta's reopening plan, Health Minister Tyler Shandro announced.

"The time is right to keep moving safely forward," he said. "I believe that the reminder of Step 2 today is safe."

Retail services, like shopping malls and individual stores, can increase capacity from 15 to 25 per cent.

Performers are allowed to rehearse for films or livestreams in groups of no more than 10, as long as they wear masks and keep a physical distance of three metres. No audiences are allowed.

Post-secondary athletic programs can resume practices but games are not allowed. Training can include up to 10 people, counting staff. Physical distancing is to be maintained during practice and masks must be worn at all times, except during practice itself.

"I would like to remind Albertans that easing restrictions does not mean that we can be less vigilant," Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said.

Step 3 will be considered on March 22 at the earliest.

"This will give us time to see what impact, if any, these changes have on COVID-19 in Alberta," Shandro said.


Dr. Hinshaw reported 278 new cases of the coronavirus, including six variant infections, after 8,086 tests.

There are 4,633 active cases and 254 Albertans battling the disease in hospitals.

Alberta Health Services has administered nearly 300,000 vaccine doses and fully immunized just over 90,000 people.

The AstraZeneca vaccine will begin to be given out on Wednesday to Albertans aged 64 and First Nations Inuit and Metis people aged 49 with no severe chronic conditions. AHS will then give that vaccine to younger people if supply allows.