The provincial government recently announced a staged lifting of the restrictions put in place to stop the spread of COVID-19. photo from Canadian Press.

Alberta releases staged COVID-19 relaunch strategy

A phased relaunch ‘will put Albertans’ safety first,’ the government says

The provincial government has released its staged relaunch of the Alberta economy, which included the opening of golf courses this past Monday.

“I’m confident Albertans will approach relaunch with the same adaptability and resilience they have shown throughout the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Premier Jason Kenney.

“We will move forward together with care and common sense, knowing tough times are still ahead. We will support and protect vulnerable Albertans and keep them safe as we build our province back up one stage at a time.”

The strategy’s early actions saw Alberta Health Services resume some scheduled, non-urgent surgeries May 4th.

Dental and other health-care workers, such as physiotherapists, speech language pathologists, dietitians and more, were allowed to resume services Monday as well, as long as they are following approved guidelines set by their professional colleges.

Access to provincial parks and public lands will be reopened using a phased approach, beginning with vehicle access to parking lots and staging areas starting Friday.

Golf courses were allowed to open May 4th, with restrictions, including keeping clubhouses and pro shops closed.

A number of requirements must be met to move onto the first official stage of the strategy, said Kenney, including enhancing provincial testing capacity, providing support for those who test positive and rules for the use of masks in crowded spaces.

In Stage 1, some businesses and facilities can start to gradually resume operations as early as May 14th. This includes:

Retail businesses, such as clothing, furniture and bookstores. All vendors at farmers markets will also be able to operate;

Some personal services like hairstyling and barber shops. Museums and art galleries;

More scheduled surgeries, dental procedures, physiotherapy, chiropractic, optometry and similar services;

Daycares and out-of-school care with limits on occupancy;

Summer camps with limits on occupancy. This could include summer school;

Cafes, restaurants (minors allowed in liquor licensed establishments) with no bar service to reopen for public seating at 50 per cent capacity;

Some additional outdoor recreation.

Post-secondary institutions will continue to deliver courses, but how programs are delivered is dependant on what restrictions remain in place at each relaunch phase.

The timing of Stage 2 will be determined by the success of Stage 1. The second stage will allow additional businesses to reopen with two-metre physical distancing requirements and other public health guidelines in place. This includes:

Potential kindergarten to Grade 12 schools, with restrictions;

More scheduled surgeries, including backlog elimination;

Personal services, such as artificial tanning, esthetics, cosmetic skin and body treatments, manicures, pedicures, waxing, facial treatments, massage and reflexology;

Permitting of some larger gatherings (number of people to be determined as we learn more about the levels of risk for different activities) in some situations;

Movie theatres and theatres open with restrictions.

Visitors to patients at health-care facilities will continue to be limited in the second stage.

Stage 3 will see the full reopening of all businesses and services, with some limited restrictions in place.

This stage will also permit:

Larger gatherings (number of people to be determined);

Arts and culture festivals, concerts and major sporting events with some restrictions;

Nightclubs, gyms, pools, recreation centres and arenas to reopen with restrictions;

Resuming industry conferences with restrictions;

No restrictions on non-essential travel.

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