Starting next Monday, Alberta will loosen some COVID-19 restrictions.
Alberta Minister of Health Tyler Shandro said outdoor gatherings of up to 10 people will be allowed as of Jan. 18. Shandro also said hair salons, barbershops, tattoo parlours and other personal and wellness services can open by appointment only next Monday.
Funeral ceremony attendance will be increased to 20 people, with mandatory masking and two-metre physical distancing. Funeral receptions are still not allowed.
Shandro wasn’t sure when they were going to be able to ease other restrictions. Indoor gatherings are still prohibited.
“Albertans have done a good job of staying the course and abiding by public health measures, but we are still seeing high hospitalizations and case numbers, and this continues to put a serious strain on our health-care system,” he said.
“How much further we can ease restrictions depends on our collective efforts over the coming days and weeks to limit the spread of the virus.”
Minister of Jobs, Economy and Innovation Doug Schweitzer also announced the expansion of province’s relaunch grant to include businesses that started up in the pandemic. businesses are now eligible for up to $15,000.
Alberta Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw reported an additional 967 cases of COVID-19 over 16,000 tests for a positivity rate of 5.8 per cent. She said 806 people are in hospital, with 136 in the ICU.
The province now has 12,434 active cases of the virus.
“The situation remains serious. Our numbers remain high and our health system is still under significant strain,” Hinshaw said.
The province also announced an additional 21 deaths due to the virus over the past 24 hours. Only one of those deaths, on Jan. 12 was in the Central zone, a man in his 50s. Overall, 1,389 people have died from COVID-19 in Alberta since the beginning of the pandemic.