Alberta began step one of a four-stepped approach to easing COVID-19 restrictions on Feb. 8.
School-related and limited indoor and outdoor children’s sport and performance activities, one-on-one indoor personal fitness with a trainer, and dine-in service at restaurants, cafés, and pubs are now permitted provincewide.
“This is a cautious step forward that protects both lives and livelihoods and it is only possible thanks to the hard work and sacrifice of Albertans. Together, we are beginning to pave a path forward for our people, our economy, and our health-care system. We’ve bent the curve and need to keep on bending it in the weeks ahead,” said Premier Jason Kenney.
Indoor masking and distancing requirements will remain in place throughout the stepped approach, and some degree of restrictions will still apply to all activities within each step.
Under step one, K-12 schools and post-secondary children’s sport and performance activities, such as physical education classes, can now use off-site facilities to support curriculum-related educational activities, lessons, practices, and conditioning activities. However, games cannot occur for indoor team-based minor sports, activities and school athletics.
One-on-one individual and one-on-one household training is permitted for indoor fitness activities, people in one-on-one sessions cannot interact with others and there must be a minimum of three metres between sessions in the same facility, sessions must be scheduled, drop-in is not permitted.
Restaurants, cafés, and pubs are open for dine-in services. However, establishments must collect the contact information of one person from the dining party, up to a maximum of six people per table is allowed and individuals must be from the same household or the two close contacts for people living alone.
Liquor service will end at 10 p.m., in-person dining must close by 11 p.m., and entertainment including VLTS, pool tables, and live music is not permitted.
A decision on step two will be made if, on Feb. 28, there are 450 or fewer hospitalizations and the number is declining. The same re-evaluation period will be used for all subsequent steps.
Metrics based on cases and growth, including COVID-19 variants, are being monitored and will also be used to guide any decisions around the need to pause further steps or potentially increase restrictions.
“It is important for us all to remember that there is a reason we are moving slowly to lift restrictions the fact that we have seven times more COVID-19 cases in hospital and intensive care than we did in May last year. It is more important than ever that we each follow public health measures every day. We need to harness our collective power to prevent cases from rising so we can protect one another and the health-care system,” said the Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw.