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Alberta group plans protest at legislature in hopes of easing COVID-19 restrictions

Click to play video 'Frustrated group of Albertans plan protest at legislature in hopes of easing COVID-19 restrictions' Frustrated group of Albertans plan protest at legislature in hopes of easing COVID-19 restrictions
WATCH: New guidelines have been released by the Alberta government to try to clear up some confusion about what is and isn't safe to do outside amid the COVID-19 pandemic. They come as a group is planning a protest pushing the province to ease public health restrictions. Chris Chacon reports. – Apr 26, 2020

New guidelines have been released by the Alberta government to try to clear up some confusion about what is and isn’t safe to do outside during the COVID-19 pandemic.

READ MORE: 247 new cases of COVID-19 in Alberta Sunday; 2 cases confirmed at Calgary homeless centre

They come as a group is planning a protest pushing the province to ease public health restrictions.

“We’re not handling this in the province of Alberta particularly well from a risk-based perspective, which is to both minimize the amount of death and to get over this as quickly as possible so we can help out our economy,” said Michael Banner, organizer of End the Lockdown Alberta, on Sunday.

READ MORE: Mass gathering restriction will remain in Alberta for summer: Hinshaw

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The group has already gained traction on social media since its inception almost two weeks ago.

“A majority of people joining the group [say] they’re mainly upset that they’re out of work, there [are] no jobs,” Banner said.

But the protest itself, if more than 15 people attend, is against the law.

“It’s frustrating in that they are creating controversy where, hopefully, we don’t need it right now but also the act of what they’re doing, the gathering together in a large group, is not great,” said Timothy Caulfield, professor of health law and policy at the University of Alberta.

The group wants to see schools and gyms reopen but gatherings limited to 50 people.

Experts say the restrictions are why Alberta’s rates remain manageable.

“I get it. It’s frustrating and these are very complex policy decisions, but we’re not there yet,” Caulfield said.

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Alberta’s top doctor said easing restrictions is not an option right now. On Sunday, Dr. Deena Hinshaw released new guidance for outdoor activities.

READ MORE: Saskatchewan to start reopening from the coronavirus pandemic on May 4

Outings like walks and bike rides are approved if social distancing can easily be done. However, going to pools or barbecues where objects are frequently touched is a no-go. Same with gatherings with 15 people or more or activities where social distancing isn’t possible.

“I know the sacrifices that are being made are taking a tremendous toll on all of us. I want you to know that I do not take these decisions lightly,” Hinshaw said at her Friday update.

The protest will be held Wednesday at the legislature at 2 p.m. The group said the gathering is meant to be peaceful and that social distancing practices are expected to be followed.