Alberta lays out phased-in reopening strategy

Above is the Apr. 30 daily briefing from Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw and questions from media. Morinville News will update the table below with the day’s statistics when they are available from the Government of Alberta website.

by Morinville News Staff

The Government of Alberta says a phased relaunch will put Albertans’ safety first as the province gradually reopens closed businesses and services to get people back to work. Among the relaunch opportunities is the allowing vehicle access to parking lots and staging areas in parks, some boat launches on May 1st, and the opening of golf courses on May 4 with clubhouses and pro shops closed. Broader measures including the ability to get a haircut could start as early as May 14.

“I’m confident Albertans will approach relaunch with the same adaptability and resilience they have shown throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. We will move forward together with care and common sense, knowing tough times are still ahead,” Premier Jason Kenney said Thursday. “We will support and protect vulnerable Albertans and keep them safe as we build our province back up one stage at a time.”

The government says the responsible actions of Albertans who have, respected public health advice, has limited the spread of COVID-19.

The government says the plan to move forward requires careful and ongoing monitoring as well as respecting all guidelines outlined by the chief medical officer of health:

• Alberta Health Services will resume some scheduled, non-urgent surgeries as soon as May 4.

• Dental and other health-care workers, such as physiotherapists, speech-language pathologists, respiratory therapists, audiologists, social workers, occupational therapists, dieticians and more, will be allowed to resume services starting May 4, as long as they are following approved guidelines set by their professional colleges.

OUTDOOR ACCESS

The government will use a phased approach beginning May 1.

• Vehicle access to parking lots and staging areas in parks and on public lands opening May 1.

• Opening a number of boat launches in provincial parks on May 1 and working to have them all open by May 14. Check albertaparks.ca for the status of boat launches.

• Government is working hard to make campsites available as soon as possible, with the goal to have as many open as possible by June 1 so Albertans can enjoy our parks while adhering to current health orders. At this time, sites are open to Albertans only. Check albertaparks.ca for updates.

• Group and comfort camping will not be offered. Campground facility access restrictions to areas such as showers, picnic and cooking shelters will also be posted to albertaparks.ca.

• Alberta Parks’ online reservation system will be available May 14 to book site visits beginning June 1. Out-of-province bookings will not be processed.

• No washrooms or garbage pickup will be available within provincial parks at this time. These services will be available as soon as Alberta Environment and Parks brings staff back. These seasonal positions represent an important opportunity for Albertans to secure employment during challenging economic times.

• Fire bans in parks, protected areas and the Forest Protection Area remain in place.

• No off-highway vehicle restrictions are currently in place. Local restrictions may be required if the risk for wildfires increases.

• Private and municipal campgrounds and parks can open with physical distancing restrictions, under their own local authority.

• Golf courses can open on May 4, with restrictions including keeping clubhouses and pro shops closed. On-site shops and restaurants can open in stage one, consistent with other businesses and retailers.

Requirements to move to the next stage

The government says additional restrictions will be lifted in stages when it is safe to do so. Before that happens, several safeguards will be put in place:

• Enhancing our nation-leading COVID-19 testing capacity at the highest level in Canada.

• Robust and comprehensive contact tracing, aided by technology, to quickly notify people who may have been exposed.

• Support for those who test positive for COVID-19, to enable isolation and effectively contain the spread.

• Stronger international border controls and airport screening, especially for international travellers.

• Rules and guidance for the use of masks in crowded spaces, especially on mass transit.

• Maintaining strong protections for the most vulnerable, including those in long-term care, continuing care and seniors lodges.

The government says it has a rapid response plan is in place in the event of possible outbreaks of COVID-19, including outbreak protocols that quickly identify close contacts to stop spread. Additionally wide testing available and providing temporary housing for isolation and other necessary supports for anyone at risk.

Physical distancing requirements of two-metres will remain in place through all stages of relaunch. Hygiene practices will continue to be required of businesses and individuals, along with instructions for Albertans to stay home when exhibiting symptoms such as cough, fever, shortness of breath, runny nose, or sore throat.

“There are signs that our collective efforts of physical distancing, good hygiene practices, and staying home when advised are helping to slow the spread,” said Dr. Deena Hinshaw, chief medical officer of health “However, we must guard against complacency and be patient to ensure the sacrifices we have already made to contain the virus are not wasted by carelessness as we gradually reopen businesses and services.”

Further opening will be in stages

With the advice of the chief medical officer of health and increased infection prevention and controls, to minimize the risk of increased transmission of infections, some businesses and facilities could start to gradually resume operations as early as May 14:

• 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.

• Cafés, 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; however, how programs are delivered – whether online, in-person, or a blend – will be dependent on what restrictions remain in place at each relaunch phase.

The government says the use of masks will be strongly recommended in certain specific crowded public spaces, like mass transit, that do not allow for physical distancing (two metres apart).

Still not permitted in stage 1:

• Gatherings of more than 15 people. (Gatherings of 15 people or fewer must follow personal distancing and other public health guidelines.)

• Arts and culture festivals, major sporting events, and concerts, all of which involve close physical contact.

• Movie theatres, theatres, pools, recreation centres, arenas, spas, gyms and nightclubs will remain closed.

• Visitors to patients at health-care facilities will continue to be limited.

• In-school classes for kindergarten to Grade 12 students.

Recommendations:

The government is making the following recommendations to Albertans.

• Non-essential travel, especially travel outside the province, is not recommended.

• Remote working is advised where possible.

Stage 2 highlights:

The success of Stage 1 as well as health-care system capacity will lead to a second stage.

That stage would allow additional businesses and services to reopen and resume operations 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.

Stage two would not permit nightclubs, gyms, pools, recreation centres, and arenas, which would remain closed.

Additionally, arts and culture festivals, concerts, attendance at major sporting events and other mass gatherings will continue to not be permitted.

Non-essential travel would also not be recommended in stage two.

Stage 3 highlights:

The success of the first two stages would lead to a third stage:

• Fully reopening all businesses and services, with some limited restrictions still in place.

• Permitting larger gatherings (number of people to be determined).

• Permitting arts and culture festivals, concerts and major sporting events with some restrictions.

• Permitting 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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