Stage 2 of the Alberta relaunch strategy is going ahead Friday, a full week ahead of the original June 19 date.
Premier Jason Kenney made the announcement in a Tuesday afternoon news conference.
Due to decreasing numbers in the Calgary and Brooks area, Kenney said that “Alberta has successfully controlled the spread of COVID-19.”
“Thats why we’re able to move to stage two safely and sooner than expected,” he said.
Stage 2 will move forward on June 12, with added features moved up from Stage 3.
The limit on gathering indoors will be increased to 50 for events such as wedding and funeral receptions.
Groups of up to 100 can gather inside or outside in seating arrangements. This includes sports arenas, places of worship, and other indoor or outdoor events.
The 50 per cent restaurant capacity will also lift on Friday, with specific requirements to be met.
Premier Kenney announced this ahead of the lapse in the Public Health Emergency on June 15.
“I cannot emphasize how important it is to enjoy all these renewed activities while still being diligent about the basics of public health,” he said.
Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, expressed her excitement for the early reopening.
“I’ve appreciated your patience as days turned into weeks and weeks turned into months,” Dr. Hinshaw said.
“These are some changes that will be welcomed by many Albertans, but we must temper our enthusiasm with caution.”
COVID-19 testing still important
Premier Kenney advised the public that even though restrictions are starting to relax, following the public health orders given by Dr. Hinshaw “need[s] to continue”
Testing will continue for symptomatic and asymptomatic members of the public.
Dr. Hinshaw and Premier Kenney reinforced the importance of getting tested so as to track the virus and cases.
“While we are concerned about the numbers, we are really grateful that people are choosing to come forward,” Dr. Hinshaw said.
Appointments can be booked online though alberta.ca/COVID-19.
Those with symptoms or who test positive are still being asked to stay home and self isolate.
Premier Kenney said it was “important” to enjoy the renewed activities, but that the public must be “diligent” about public health basics.
“While we’re still not back to our pre-pandemic lives, and we need to accept precautions as a part of our new normal,” said Dr. Hinshaw.
“We are closer than we were.”
City of Calgary reviewing provincial announcement
The City of Calgary said they’d take some time to analyze what this means for the resumption of city services.
“Calgarians have done very good work in following public health orders,” the statement from the city read.
“While opening additional services, businesses and activities are welcome news, we must continue to take Dr. Hinshaw’s advice and keep up our own personal efforts to help limit the spread of COVID-19 while we safely resume more of our regular daily lives.”