Alberta’s premier says the province will be “back to normal” when 72 per cent of people are immune to COVID-19.
“Last week Alberta implemented aggressive, but necessary measures to keep people safe and to protect our health care system, by returning to Step 1 of the four-step framework to protect the health system and reduce the rising spread of COVID in the province,” Jason Kenney said Monday morning.
“These measures are designed to buy us time to get enough Albertans vaccinated so we can finally get through this thing and get back to normal this summer. Vaccines remain our best hope.”
To date, more than 865,000 doses of the vaccine have been administered in Alberta.
Kenney has said vaccine rollout is critical, as the impact of COVID-19 on the province has become a race between the rise of the variants and getting a critical mass of people vaccinated.
In coming weeks, almost a quarter of Albertans will have “some degree of immunity” through vaccine or prior infection, said Kenney.
Almost half of the population should have at least one shot by the end of May, two-thirds (64 per cent) by the end of June and three-quarters (72 per cent) by mid-September, he said.
“We’re nearing the end of a long and tiring journey. It is our path to recovery and freedom,” Kenney said.
“Right now we’re in a transition period fighting to keep control of the virus just a little while longer until it’s vanquished by vaccines.”
Once about half of Albertans have immunity, the provincial government is hoping to raise capacity limits for gatherings, said Kenney.
“Some restrictions may remain, but not anything like right now.”
When about two-thirds of Albertans are immune, there won’t be any formal restrictions, Kenney said, adding stampedes, sporting events and other festivals will be possible, especially if they’re held outdoors. Masks and distancing will only be encouraged and not mandated.
Albertans will then get “back to normal” when 72 per cent of people are immune to the virus.
As Phase 2C of the province’s vaccine rollout plan began Monday, Kenney said the supply of vaccines is increasing.
The province expects to receive 119,000 Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine doses every week, until early June when that number jumps to 225,000 a week. Alberta will also receive more Moderna vaccine shipments and is hoping for its first shipment of the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine in early-May, said Kenney.
“As more doses arrive, we will keep accelerating our rollout,” he said.
“All adults in Alberta will be offered a first dose of vaccine by the end of June, provided that those doses arrive as scheduled.”
Rapid flow-through clinics have been opened in Red Deer, Lethbridge, Grande Prairie and Medicine Hat.
Mega clinics — each able to able to administer up to 1,000 doses per hour and 6,000 per day — opened in Calgary and Edmonton on Monday.
With files from the Canadian Press