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Province to decide Friday whether Calgary, Brooks will move to next phase of Stage 1 relaunch

Calgary, Brooks to learn Friday if they can join Phase 1 of relaunch
WATCH ABOVE: Premier Jason Kenney says he hopes to provide an update on Friday afternoon on when Calgary and Brooks can join the rest of the province in Phase 1 of the COVID-19 relaunch plan, and explained the criteria that need to be met in order for that to happen. He also fired back against criticism that the Alberta government shut down the economy, explaining the province tried to take a balanced approach.

Premier Jason Kenney said that the government will announce this Friday whether the Calgary and Brooks regions will be going forward with the next phase of their relaunch process.

“The emergency management cabinet committee will be meeting with Dr. Hinshaw this coming Friday morning to make a final decision about the next stages in relaunch for Calgary and Brooks,” Kenney said at a press conference Tuesday.

“I commit that we will make that decision public, immediately following that meeting.”

The majority of the province moved forward with Stage 1 of the relaunch plan last Thursday, but Calgary and Brooks were both put into a slower approach due to the high COVID-19 case numbers in those regions.

The next phase of the Stage 1 reopening for those two regions is initially set for May 25, with the final portion of Stage 1 currently slated to be launched on June 1.

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In an update on the COVID-19 situation in the province Tuesday, Hinshaw said that while the low numbers of new cases in the province are “encouraging,” the next step depends on how the rest of the week unfolds.

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“I think the important thing to remember is that the incubation period is up to 14 days, but the average incubation period is in that five to eight day range,” Hinshaw said. “So this week is going to be critical.”

She said that it should become clear over the next few days what effect Thursday’s reopening had on new cases.

“We’ll be able to provide a more accurate understanding of what the impact of that initial phase of opening has been by mid-week,” Hinshaw said.

READ MORE: Coronavirus: Calgary, Brooks to take slower approach as Alberta implements Phase 1 of relaunch

Currently, retail locations and other services like daycares and museums have opened in Calgary and Brooks, but restaurants, places of worship, and hair stylist and barbers remain closed.

Kenney said that health officials want to monitor how cases in those areas react to first openings before moving forward with the next steps.

“What our public health people want to see is whether the first stage in the relaxation of public health measures in Calgary and Brooks has led to a significant increase in community spread or not.”

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He added the Calgary and Brooks regions currently account for 85 per cent of the total active cases in the province.

READ MORE: AHS orders Calgary Mucho Burrito to close after employee worked with COVID-19 symptoms

Kenney added that he isn’t expecting the timelines to change.

“I fully expect a green light from the chief medical officer to proceed with the timeline we outlined last Wednesday,” he said.

Hinshaw said Tuesday that she believes “the numbers to date have been good,” and that they have so far been “stable.”

The premier also added that while he understands the frustrations from Albertans on the closures and limited relaunch, he believes the province has taken a measured approach to its COVID-19 restrictions.

“I see a lot of folks on Facebook and elsewhere saying, ‘We’ve got to stop shutting down the economy,'” Kenney said.

“The public health orders that Alberta put in place over the past two months suspended the operation of about 15 per cent of businesses — so 85 per cent of Alberta businesses continued to operate.

“We’ve taken a much lighter touch to the public health measures than the vast majority of jurisdictions around the world, with very good results,” he said.

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Kenney said he expects Friday’s announcement to take place around noon.