By Justin Seward
The Government of Alberta announced a plan to phase out public health measures on Feb. 8.
The three-step approach begins with low-risk activities, while maintaining protections for the health-care system and continuing care facilities.
The province moved to step one on Feb. 8 with removal of the Restrictions Exemption Program (REP) and removing capacity limits on venues under 500 capacity—including libraries and places of worship— and allows for food and beverage in seated audiences in large event and entertainment venues.
Alcohol service, closing times, table capacity in restaurants and interactive activities will remain in force.
Capacity limits will be set at 500 for facilities that hold between 500 to 1,000 and 1,000 plus will be set at 50 per cent.
“The last two years have taken a significant toll on Albertans’ overall health, social and economic well-being. Now that we are through the worst of the fifth wave and have achieved high vaccination rates, it is time to shift to a balanced approach where we are able to live with COVID-19 and return to normal,” said Premier Jason Kenney.
Mandatory masking for K-12 students and youth under 12 will be lifted as of Feb. 13 at 11:59 p.m.
“The vast majority of Albertans are now fully vaccinated. It’s a major factor that now allows us to ease restrictions, but we will do so only as conditions show that our health system’s capacity is recovering. Albertans can help make that possible by getting every vaccine dose they are eligible for,” said Jason Copping, health minister.
Step two will come into effect March 1 and will see any remaining provincial school requirements—including cohorts— screening prior to youth activities will no longer be required, capacity limits will be lifted for all venues, social gathering limits, provincial mask mandate and mandatory work from home will be all be lifted.
Step three will be determined based on hospitalization rates decreasing including COVID-specific measures in continuing care and mandatory isolations become a recommendations only.