Stage 2 of Alberta's relaunch strategy goes into effect this Friday
EDMONTON -- Alberta is moving up Stage 2 of its relaunch strategy to Friday, June 12.
The province had previously eyed June 19 as a potential Stage 2 date, but it was moved up by a week because the rate of COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations are well below modeled projections.
Alberta's active COVID-19 case count was 355 infections as of Monday, with 44 people in hospital including six in ICUs.
There have been 7,202 cases of the disease in Alberta since the pandemic began.
"This decision is anchored in science and solid data," Alberta Premier Jason Kenney said in a Tuesday news conference. “We're effectively containing the virus as best as possible."
Chief Medical OFficer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said the accelerated relaunch was good news, but still maintained that it's not a time to get complacent about hand-washing or physical distancing.
"We must temper our enthusiasm with caution. We have made it to Stage 2 earlier than expected because we have remained vigilant. My message to you today is we need to remain vigilant," she said.
Alberta initiated Stage 1 of the strategy on May 14, starting with the reopening of some businesses and services.
Last week, the province said June 19 was its estimated date for Stage 2 as active COVID-19 infections continue to fall in the province.
Under Stage 2, additional businesses will be allowed to reopen as long as two-metre physical distancing is observed, some earlier than expected.
Included on the list is K-12 schools for diploma exams and summer school classes, gyms, recreation centres and arenas, libraries, some surgeries and health services, personal services like manicures and pedicures, and movie theatres.
There will also be higher limits on indoor and outdoor gatherings.
There will now be a maximum of 50 people allowed at indoor social gatherings and a maximum of 100 people permitted at outdoor events and indoor seated or audience events.
The cap for gatherings will be removed from churches and other places of worship, restaurants, cafes, lounges and bars.
Casinos will also reopen but table games will not be available, and bingo halls will also reopen.
Nightclubs, amusement parks and hookah lounges will remain closed until Stage 3, according to the province.
Visitors to patients at health care facilities will also continue to be limited. The province is still recommending against non-essential travel outside of the province.