Alberta's three-stage Open for Summer Plan
(Graphic from Government of Alberta)

Updated: Alberta could return to normal by early July: premier

Plan identifies targets that must be hit for hospitalizations and vaccinations to allow reopening

Premier Jason Kenney said all health restrictions could be lifted as early as July if Albertans continue to get vaccinated and hospitalizations fall.

Kenney unveiled a three-stage road map for lifting health restrictions and returning to normal on Wednesday morning.

The plan outlines the targets that must be hit to ease restrictions as long as Albertans continue to follow public health orders and vaccination numbers rise quickly.

Kenney said Albertans responded when the government imposed new health restrictions three weeks ago.

“The diligence and sacrifices of Albertans hasn’t just stopped the spike, but crushed it,” he said.

Active cases have dropped more than 50 per cent from the 25,000 active cases identified earlier this month. Hospitalizations and ICU admissions have stabilized and are coming down with 548 people in hospital on Wednesday morning, down 150 from a week ago. ICU numbers are also coming down, to 157 on Tuesday from 187 on May 18, said Kenney.

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Nearly 2.6 million vaccine doses, including 500,000 in last two weeks, have been administered. A recent survey shows 83 per cent of Albertans have been vaccinated or are planning to get a shot.

Stage 1 of the province’s summer opening plan will start Tuesday, two weeks after 50 per cent of Albertans 12 and older received at least one dose of vaccine and COVID-19 hospitalizations went below 800.

Stage 2 kicks in two weeks after 60 per cent of Albertans 12 and older have been vaccinated and hospitalizations are below 500 and falling.

The province projects hitting the second phase in mid-June.

Stage 3 is activated when 70 per cent of Albertans 12 and older — another 380,000 people — have been vaccinated for two weeks. Masking and physical distancing rules will remain in effect until Stage 3.

“We are optimistic we will enter Stage 3 by early July, and what a great day that will be,” he said, adding the day could be pushed up as early as June 28 if targets are hit. “Events like K-Days and Calgary Stampede can proceed at that point with full participation.”

Kenney urged Albertans to get their shots to allow the province to reopen. “Get vaccinated and get vaccinated as quick as you can.”

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Health Minister Tyler Shandro said the government’s plan is “based on facts and is based on statistics we’ve seen play out all over the world.”

Shandro also urged Albertans to spread the message about the importance of getting a shot and to share their experiences with others.

“If you’re protected. Be public. Be proud about it,” he said.

“We need all of us to take action together. The speed of our reopening depends on it.”

Starting Friday, worship services can go to 15 per cent capacity.

On Tuesday, outdoor dining at tables of up to four people from the same household will be allowed. Outdoor social gatherings can include up to 10 people but indoor gatherings are still prohibited. Up to 10 people can also participate in outdoor physical, recreational or performance activities and retail services can increase to 15 per cent occupancy.

Personal and wellness services can reopen by appointment only and wedding ceremonies can have up to 10 people and funerals up to 20 starting Tuesday. Wedding receptions and post-funeral ceremonies remain prohibited.

Stage 2 sees further easing of restrictions. Indoor and outdoor restaurant dining of tables up to six will be allowed. Walk-in visits to personal and wellness services, public outdoor gatherings allowed up to 150 people with restrictions and a return to in-person learning at post-secondary institutions.

Indoor recreation facilities, cinemas, theatres, museums, art galleries and libraries can reopen at one-third capacity.

Indoor and outdoor youth and adult sports and other activities can go ahead with no restrictions. Day camps and play centres can go ahead but with restrictions.

At Stage 3, all restrictions will be lifted, including bans on indoor and social gatherings. Confirmed COVID cases will lead to isolation requirements and some measures will remain in place at continuing care facilities.

To help businesses, the deadline to apply for small- and medium-size enterprise relaunch grants are being extended. About 15,000 businesses have applied since the program began on April 23.

The hospitality industry will also not have to pay the hotel tourism levy until the end of June.

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