Weeks after first suggesting that COVID restrictions were nearing their end, Premier Jason Kenney announced today during a press conference that mandates as we know them would soon be coming to an end. Effective at midnight tonight, the province will begin loosening measures as part of their new plan to begin reopening Alberta, and here’s what we know so far.
As mentioned in a Tweet this morning, Kenney confirmed that the government would begin to do away with restrictions in hopes of paving “Alberta’s path back to normal.
Much like other provincial plans we’ve seen in the past, this will be done in steps, and depend on how many hospitalizations we have as a way to prevent overcrowding the system.
The first phase, which will go into effect at 11:59 tonight February 8th will consist of the following:
- Restrictions Exemption Program removed, along with most associated restrictions.
- Capacity limits in large facilities and entertainment venues (500+) remain in place, but food and beverages now allowed in seats.
- Capacity limits for locations not covered under the REP program are removed.
- Mandatory masking requirements removed for:
- children 12 and under in all settings as of February 14
- children and youth in schools for any age as of February 14
The second phase, which will take effect on March 1st will include:
- Any remaining school requirements removed (for example: Kindergarten to grade 6 cohorting).
- Youth screening activities for entertainment and sport activities removed
- Capacity on all large venues and entertainment venues lifted.
- Indoor and outdoor social gathering limits lifted.
- Mandatory work-from-home requirements lifted.
- Indoor masking no longer required.
And lastly, the third phase will see the following:
- COVID-specific continuing care measures removed.
- Mandatory isolation removed (becomes a recommendation only).
It is important to note, however, that municipalities will still have the power to enforce their own public health restrictions despite the provincial government lifting certain measures. Calgary actually did this when the optional Restriction Exemption Program was introduced in September, instead, requiring businesses to participate.
Current measures such as capacity, liquor service cutoffs at bars and restaurants, as well as indoor and outdoor gathering limits have been in place since December 24th; while other measures such as mandatory masking have been in place since 2020.
For more information or to stay updated please visit the Government of Alberta website here. Please, stay safe, be smart and be patient. These are crazy times.