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Calgary and Brooks get green light to move forward with Stage 1 of Alberta’s relaunch strategy

Kenney announces continuation of phased relaunch in Calgary and Brooks
Alberta Premier Jason Kenney announces Calgary and Brooks will proceed with Phase 1 of the province’s COVID-19 relaunch on Monday, May 25.

Calgary and Brooks have been given the green light by Premier Jason Kenney to continue with Stage 1 of Alberta’s relaunch strategy amid the COVID-19 pandemic, alongside the rest of the province.

“I want to say thank you to folks in Calgary and Brooks for showing a great responsibility,” Kenney said at a news conference on Friday morning.

“On advice from the chief medical officer of health, we will be proceeding with the next phases of reopening businesses and services in the communities of Calgary and Brooks.”

The next stage of relaunch will begin in the two cities on May 25, and will include the reopening of several services, including restaurants, bars, hair salons and barber shops.

Calgary restaurants may not open for dine-in despite provincial green light
Calgary restaurants may not open for dine-in despite provincial green light

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

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On May 14, the majority of the province moved forward with Stage 1 of the relaunch plan, while the cities of Calgary and Brooks were held back due to the high number of novel coronavirus cases in those regions.

However, some retailers and other services in Calgary and Brooks reopened with the rest of the province, including daycares and museums.

The emergency cabinet committee held a meeting with Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, on Friday morning to discuss the outcome of the partial reopening in the cities, and whether they’re ready to move on to the next stage of Phase 1 along with the rest of the province.

Kenney said that meeting highlighted that the results of reopening some retailers in the communities of Calgary and Brooks, so far, hasn’t caused an uptick in cases.

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“That’s exactly why we’re proceeding with Phase 1 in Calgary and Brooks,” he said.

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

Health Minister Tyler Shandro also announced on Friday the reopening of more medical services across the province.

He noted that in-patient surgeries requiring overnight stays in hospitals will now resume across the province.

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Vice president of quality and chief medical officer with Alberta Health Services, Dr. Francois Belanger, said these surgeries will be performed based on need moving forward.

“The surgeries will be prioritized based on clinical need, so those that are the sickest and those that have been waiting for the longest will be prioritized to be done initially,” Belanger said.

Belanger added that since the pandemic was declared in March, the province has completed 25,000 emergent surgeries, and since May 4, 3,000 day-surgeries. Now he’s hoping thousands more can be completed in the coming weeks.

“We are ready for the next phase,” he said.

“We anticipate, and our goal and target, is to do an additional 9,000 to 13,000 surgeries between now and June 15.”

Alberta resumes scheduled inpatient surgeries
Alberta resumes scheduled inpatient surgeries

As of June 3, Calgary’s south health campus and High River hospital will be able to resume their maternity services.

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Belanger noted these services were initially paused in order to prepare for a surge of in-patient and ICU patients due to the COVID-19 virus.

“In order to prepare for the COVID-19 pandemic, two things were really important. First of all, we did have to ensure that we had enough in-patient and acute care capacity,” he said.

“Second, we had to obviously follow the directives of public health measures and public health orders that were provided.”

Now, with the reduced number of COVID-19 patients in the hospital, Belanger said AHS has determined those services can resume.

READ MORE: AHS starts to work through backlog of surgeries after pause due to COVID-19

Shandro added that as more businesses reopen in Calgary, Alberta Health Services will be extending its self-assessment tool. Effective May 25, any symptomatic individuals in the Calgary zone will be able to book their own testing appointment if they live within 50 kilometres of an assessment centre and if the self-assessment tool indicates a test is needed.

Shandro also announced that voluntary testing will be available to residents and staff in long-term care and supportive living facilities — even if a person is not experiencing any symptoms.

“Testing will be offered in phases beginning this week,” Shandro said.

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“We know that people who live in these facilities are at greater risk.”

READ MORE: Coronavirus: Alberta phased relaunch strategy will see some restrictions eased Friday

Alberta is scheduled to move on to Stage 2 of its relaunch strategy in June, which would allow more businesses and services to reopen, including personal services, such as artificial tanning, manicures and massage and reflexology.

On Friday, Kenney noted that, so far, the province is looking at moving forward with Stage 2 as originally planned.

“I believe that we are on track, our target date is June 19,” Kenney said.

“We’re keeping an eye on the numbers.

“But if we continue with the current direction of the numbers… and if we continue to make progress in Calgary and the rest of the province, I think we’ll be moving forward with Phase 2 as planned.”

Alberta ‘on-track’ for Phase 2 reopening: Kenney
Alberta ‘on-track’ for Phase 2 reopening: Kenney