Alberta’s plan to revive the economy will begin with the phasing in of some elective surgery and access to provincial parks in early May, Premier Jason Kenney announced Thursday.
If all goes well, the government will then reopen some retail stores, hair and hair salons, museums, art galleries and daycare centers on May 14.
Government overview indicates that stimulus strategy is a direct result of Albertans respecting public health orders, such as good hygiene, self-isolation and keeping two meters apart since the COVID pandemic -19.
But progress towards the final phase of the plan, which aims to reopen businesses and services with restrictions, depends on the ability of Albertans to maintain their positive momentum.
“Here’s the reality. We are not close to receiving a comprehensive or effective vaccine or treatment for this disease, ”said Kenney.
“What we need to do is manage risk and this is the basis for our recovery strategy. Progressive and careful steps to open up, and we’re counting on Albertans to show us that great civic spirit, that personal responsibility, that cares for others in the way they behave. “
He said if the public immediately takes relaxed health orders as a “license to leave” erip “by not practicing good hygiene or organizing mass rallies, the restrictions will be reinstated.
” Guess what? We will probably see an important peak and then we will have to come back and close a lot again. “
STEP 1: PARKS, SURGERIES, RETAILS AND RESTAURANTS
The province’s first steps will include resumption of scheduled, non-emergency surgeries on May 4, as well as services offered by excluded health care workers such as dentists, physiotherapists, speech-language pathologists, social workers and more.
Workers will continue to follow the health guidelines established by their respective colleges.
Access to provincial parks and public lands will resume on May 1. The Alberta Parks online booking system will be available again on May 14 for bookings starting June 1.
Alberta Parks will not accept bookings from outside the province, the government said, and group and comfort camping will not be offered.
Campsites and private and municipal parks can also operate from May 4, as long as campers and park users respect the rules of physical distance of two meters.
Golf courses will also be allowed to reopen on May 4, although current guidelines mean that lodges must remain closed.
If health orders continue to flatten the curve after the first measurements, Kenney said that some companies and facilities could start to resume operations on May 14, including:
retail stores such as clothing, furniture and bookstores
all sellers in the farmer’s market
hair salons and hairdressers
museums and art galleries
Additional scheduled surgeries such as dental procedures, physiotherapy, chiropractic and optometry
daycare and out-of-school care, with occupancy limits
cafes, restaurants, lounges, bars and pubs at 50% capacity
Kenney said the first phase of the plan will not change current public health measures, including a limit on gatherings of more than 15 people, the closure of recreational facilities, the cancellation of all mass gatherings like the summer festivals and concerts, or face-to-face courses at K- 12 schools.
Non-essential travel will still be discouraged and the government has said it will continue to advise employees who can continue working remotely.
Several safeguards will be in place before the implementation of Stage 1, said Kenney, including:
increased COVID-19 testing capacity. Kenney has already stated that he is targeting 20,000 tests per day
tracing exposure contracts using technology as a new government application
strengthening border controls and airport controls for international passengers
guidelines for using masks in crowded spaces such as public transit
He said any decision to relax more would be made with input from Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta’s chief medical officer of health.
She said the revelation of the stimulus package was a positive sign, but the fight is far from over.
“We must continue to use common sense to protect each other and help prevent the spread,” she said. “Please continue to wash your hands frequently, stay home if you are sick. Maintain a physical distance and pay attention to each other in the days and weeks to come. “
STEPS 2 AND 3: MORE SURGERIES, PERSONAL SERVICES AND MASS GATHERINGS POSSIBLE
Stage 2 of the strategy will see the potential reopening of K-12 schools with restrictions, although Kenney said students will not return to class for the rest of this school year.
He said courses for the next school year could start earlier to make up for lost time, while summer courses and other specialized programs could be set up earlier.
Surgeries and additional personal services such as tanning salons, aesthetics, skin and body care, manicures and pedicures, massages and reflexology will also be reintroduced in step 2. This also includes the reopening of cinemas with restrictions and certain larger gatherings.
Finally, stage 3 – dependent on the success of stage 2 and other health factors – will reopen all businesses and all services, large gatherings, including festivals, leisure facilities, discos, arenas and conferences with restrictions in place.
The government has not specified a schedule for stages 2 and 3 of the strategy, as they are subject to change depending on the success of stage 1 and whether Alberta remains hospitalized as planned, Intensive care admissions and new infection rates.
“Each phase will be monitored to determine whether to adjust the restrictions up or down,” said Kenney. “An epidemic can mean that certain restrictions need to be temporarily tightened in a local area. “
He also said he expected the assembly limit to drop from 15 at some point in the three-stage plan.
NDP SAYS PLAN DOES NOT RESPOND TO WORKERS ‘SAFETY
Alberta NDP leader Rachel Notley was quick to return to the stimulus package, criticizing the UCP government for mismanaging COVID-19 outbreaks at the processing plant Cargill meat in High River and JBS Food Canada plant in Brooks.
“We now have the worst COVID-19 outbreak on the entire continent at the Cargill meat plant in High River,” Notley tweeted. “The concerns of factory workers several weeks ago fell on deaf ears. The same goes for the JBS plant in Brooks, which is still open. “
Cargill, who saw 908 cases of COVID-19 among workers, had temporarily suspended operations but this week announced plans to gradually reopen as of May 4. Over 600 workers have recovered from the disease.
There have also been 333 confirmed cases at JBS Food.
Two people have died in these epidemics and many workers have expressed concern about the resumption of operations, Notley said.
“The Prime Minister’s plan to reopen Alberta will not work if he continues to ignore and completely reject the voices of those in the workshop.”
An occupational health and safety investigation is underway at the two plants.
ALBERTA COVID-19 FIGURES ARE BELOW PROJECTIONS
Earlier this week, the Prime Minister released new modeling projections that show efforts to reduce the peak of the virus are working.
“The number of Albertans hospitalized and admitted to intensive care is far lower than originally predicted,” he said.
The new probable projections suggest that 596 people will be hospitalized at the height of the virus, against 818 people estimated in the initial projections published at the beginning of the month. The new scenario also estimates that 190 people will need intensive care at the peak.
As of Thursday’s update, 214 people have been hospitalized and 49 have been admitted to intensive care in Alberta. Out of the 5,355 cases in the province, 89 people died.
Kenney said the government would closely monitor the number of hospitalizations and ICU admissions, as well as the growth rate of COVID-19 cases, including confirmed cases as a percentage of tests, to guide the strategy stimulus.