Visitors to Sylvan Lake and other beaches will be required to stay two metres apart from other parties this summer. (Advocate file photo).

COVID-19 reduction measures must be maintained as the province opens, says Central Alberta medical expert

A hike in viral cases will mean the return more restrictions, says Dr. Digby Horne.

Physical distancing is falling by the wayside for many central Albertans as the weather warms — prompting a warning from the zone’s medical officer of health.

While Alberta is starting to open up more businesses and reduce gathering size restrictions, Dr. Digby Horne, one of three medical officers of health for the central zone of Alberta Health Services, cautioned that things could easily swing back the other way, unless people keep following virus-reduction protocols.

The pandemic is far from over, even though no new cases of COVID-19 are being reported in many communities, added Horne.

“The vaccine is yet to be developed — and even if we had a vaccine, we don’t know who it would work on and how well it would work…”

Horne said it’s especially important, as the province moves into Stage 2 of its reopening on Friday, that citizens remember to stay two metres away from others, wash their hands frequently, and avoid touching their face.

These are the basic measures repeated daily by the province’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw.

Complaints are still coming in to AHS about businesses that are not following COVID-19 reduction protocols. Horne said several involved businesses that had opened, even though they weren’t authorized to yet.

Some Alberta resort communities have expressed concern about drawing huge crowds and are discussing hiring peace officers to ensure people are properly distancing.

The Town of Sylvan Lake already has patrolling officers who will help ensure appropriate distance is maintained.

Horne said “Two metres is two metres, whether you are indoors or outdoors, (as) droplets can travel from your nose and mouth and land on somebody else.”

AHS will continue monitoring the number of COVID-19 cases in the province to determine whether there will be a second wave of the virus, and what protective measures will be needed when Albertans return to spending more time indoors this fall.


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