by Stephen Dafoe
Outdoor social gatherings of up to 10 people will be allowed starting Jan. 18; however, indoor gatherings will remain prohibited.
The province announced the loosening of restrictions Thursday afternoon. Those changes include personal and wellness services being allowed to open by appointment only. Funeral ceremony attendance will be increased to 20 people, with mandatory masking and a two-metre physical distancing requirement. Funeral receptions are still not allowed.
All other existing health measures remain in place.
“This limited easing of restrictions is possible thanks to the efforts of Albertans over the past few weeks,” Premier Jason Kenney said in a media release Thursday. “But, we need to be careful that we don’t reduce too early and risk the steady improvements we’ve made since November. We want to ensure the safety of Albertans, while balancing the uncertainty faced by Alberta businesses and service providers. We will be continually evaluating the public health data to make adjustments where possible.”
Dr. Deena Hinshaw, chief medical officer of health, said although Alberta has seen a decline in transmission, the province’s health-care system is still at risk.
“We must remain diligent in our efforts to bring our numbers down even further,” she said. “By easing some measures like outdoor gathering limits, we hope to support Albertans’ mental health, while still following other restrictions that are helping us reduce case numbers.”