by Stephen Dafoe
NDP Leader Rachel Notley expressed concern over the pacing of the UCP government’s reopening plan announced Wednesday morning. That plan would see the lifting of all restrictions by early July if hospitalizations continue down and vaccines continue up.
Alberta is set to start Step 1 on Friday with the expansion of church capacity to 15 per cent of fire code capacity, and the easing of retail capacity, personal services and patio dining on Monday.
“I know many people are looking forward to a time without restrictions, without masks, and without the stresses of the pandemic weighing on all of us. I am one of those people,” Notley said Wednesday afternoon.
“But I am concerned about the pace of this reopening plan, given that we had the highest rate of infection of anywhere in Canada or the US earlier this very month. I have questions about how the premier decided on this pace, and whether it was informed by science, or simply by working backwards from the first day of the Calgary Stampede.”
The NDP cite other provinces waiting until 60 to 70 per cent vaccination rates to commence reopening, while Alberta’s Step 1 is at 50 per cent vaccination. The NDP are also critical that steps to phases are after two weeks compared to three weeks in other provinces. The Official Opposition says Alberta could hit full opening by July 1, compared to July 22 for Ontario’s best-case scenario for indoor dining with restrictions. They also cite Quebec who anticipates festivals and fairs with more than 2,500 people happening in late August or when 75 per cent of Quebecers have their second dose.
“Jason Kenney has downplayed the risk of COVID, he has ignored warnings, he failed to act for weeks on end when the danger was obvious, and he failed to enforce the rules until the violations became international news,” Notley said. “I hope that this plan does not continue Jason Kenney’s pattern of failure to responsibly manage Alberta’s pandemic response.”
Full details on Alberta’s reopening plan can be found in our May 26 article.