Almost all remaining public health restrictions will be lifted in Alberta on Tuesday as the province moves into the second phase of its transition to an endemic approach to COVID-19.
Prime Minister Jason Kenney said on Saturday that the “vast majority” of restrictions would end, during a ribbon cutting at the new Grande Prairie Regional Hospital.
“I know there are those who welcome the lifting of restrictions with mixed feelings. But I want to remind you, Alberta is not alone in this approach,” Kenney said. He noted that other jurisdictions, such as the United Kingdom, are also lifting restrictions.
under Step 2remaining school requirements; Examination of young people for recreational and sports activities; capacity limits in large spaces and places of recreation; operating restrictions on restaurants and bars such as liquor selling services; all limits of social gatherings; Mandatory work-from-home requirements will be removed.
There will no longer be a need to hide enclosed spaces, except, as Kenny said, in “high-risk settings,” including public transportation, Alberta Health Services facilities and continuing care settings.
The Alberta government’s three-step plan to lift restrictions was launched in Step 2 on March 1, if hospital treatment is still trending lower.
“Fortunately, all the evidence here and around the world is that the worst of COVID-19 is behind us,” Kenny said.
As of Friday, there are 1,259 people in hospital due to COVID-19, including 88 in intensive care.
county data It shows that hospital admissions outside of the intensive care unit are generally declining for more than two weeks, while the number of admissions to the intensive care unit has fallen by nearly 30 percent in the past week.
Kenny said the data shows “no evidence at this point that our transition to normal is negatively impacting our health care system.”
Health Secretary Jason Copping, who joined Saturday’s announcement, indicated that the government will continue to monitor COVID-19 in the county.
“We go through our transition carefully and wisely, which is why we maintain protection for places like Continuing Care [settings] and hospitals.”
“However, we are confident in our approach.”
Under Step 1, which began on February 9, Alberta removed the Restriction Waiver Program – the province’s copy of the vaccine passport – and its “most closely related restrictions.”
Capacity limits were extended in “large facilities” and entertainment venues, and food and beverage consumption was allowed in seating.
Mandatory masking requirements in schools, and for children under 13 in all settings, were removed on February 14.
But there are still restrictions on “food-serving entities” and physical distancing between people from different households has been encouraged.
Lifting restrictions creates unknowns
This shift creates uncertainty about how COVID-19 will develop in Alberta, said Lenora Saxinger, an infectious disease specialist at the University of Alberta.
The Omicron variant has spread completely in the province, despite the restrictions imposed. Its reach was so widespread that the government was forced to limit who could obtain PCR tests.
County data shows the seven-day PCR test positive rate was 22.82 percent as of Friday. But testing restrictions mean the amount of virus in the community is likely to be much higher.
“What is the price [restrictions] She said: “I have an impact on transmission is an open question frankly. To some extent, we might learn more about that if we find increased transmission while reducing public health protections.
“It’s going to be really important that we keep a close eye on what’s really going on and we have to keep an eye on the right data and the right data as well.”
She said test-positivity rates, hospitalization and intensive care unit admissions, and COVID-19 deaths are reliable indicators for now. If they start to trend upward, the county must be ready to implement the restrictions again.
It will also be important for leaders to push messages about why vaccination against COVID-19 is important, including receiving a booster dose, she said.
“One of the biggest risks with the hub to all the constraints at once is that — even though it doesn’t say so — it sends a message that [COVID-19] It’s not a big problem anymore.”
“This is a message that we should try very hard to avoid spreading, because it’s clearly not over and there are a lot of different ways things could go.”
Calgary mask bylaws to end
The city of Calgary said its mask regulation will expire once restrictions are lifted Tuesday.
Susan Henry, head of the Calgary Emergency Management Agency, said in a news release Saturday that the city is “cautiously optimistic” about entering this phase of the pandemic.
“Some of us would welcome the lifting of restrictions while others would prefer to continue to wear face coverings and follow other precautions,” Henry said.
“We have to be kind and empathetic to each other, respect those personal choices and allow everyone to move at their own pace.”
The city reminded residents to keep wearing masks until Tuesday.