Indoor recreation, fitness and sport — including gyms, arenas and pools for leisure swimming — are being bumped up from Phase 3 of Alberta’s relaunch strategy to Stage 2.
Premier Jason Kenney announced Tuesday that Stage 2 will begin across the province on Friday, June 12 — a week earlier than expected.
Kenney said the province has been doing well in its fight to slow the spread of COVID-19.
Health officials said there are 355 active cases and 44 people in hospital, a decrease of almost 70 per cent in the last month.
Alberta’s chief medical officer of health added there is detailed guidance for gyms and other fitness centres on the government’s website to help them open safely.
“The guidance looks at the difference between lower intensity activities and higher intensity activities and puts some restrictions in place in terms of distancing measures, which would be greater for higher intensity activities,” Dr. Deena Hinshaw said.
“For lower intensity activities, physical distancing of two metres would be adequate with some enhanced measures for the regular cleaning of equipment. Where there is possibility of people bringing their own equipment — such as if they’re participating in a fitness class like yoga, bringing their own equipment would be recommended — and other measures such as regular screening.
“Anyone attending would need to go through some screening to make sure they’re not ill, that they haven’t been in close contact with someone who has COVID, they haven’t’ returned from international travel in the last 14 days,” Hinshaw explained.
“There’s a list of those kinds of requirements, the guidelines and measures those business owners can take to ensure their customers and their staff remain safe.”
Kenney said Albertans should not panic if they see more cases and more deaths but they should remain vigilant and follow public health guidelines.
Hinshaw stressed the importance of isolating and getting tested if you feel unwell.
“Stay home. Don’t go out. Get tested.”
The City of Edmonton said it was encouraging to see Alberta in a place where it can move on to Stage 2. However, the city will review reopening plans “against our current realities,” said David Aitken, chair of Edmonton’s COVID-19 task team.
“This includes how we might introduce the reopenings of facilities like recreation centres, arenas, indoor pools and libraries.
“In order to comply with public health and safety requirements, and in consideration of operational resources, budget constraints and public compliance, it might mean that reopenings will be phased in over time or currently paused for further review,” Aitken said in a news release Tuesday afternoon.
The city added that reopening facilities is very complex and given the financial impacts of the pandemic, “some services will not return this season.”
An overview of options will be presented at the next emergency advisory committee meeting on Thursday.
YMCA Calgary said it’s getting ready to reopen but won’t be ready by Friday. YMCA Calgary said it will reopen in a phased approach.
“The safety and well-being of everyone in our community — especially our most vulnerable neighbours — remains our top priority,” the YMCA said.
“We are in the process of putting protocols in place to ensure that once our buildings open, our participants feel informed and safe to return.”
YMCA Calgary also said there would be some changes to physical spaces as well as new procedures for everybody to “ensure our facilities meet the highest standards for safety and hygiene.”
Other things that can open, with restrictions, in Stage 2 are:
- K-12 schools, for requested diploma exams and summer school, following guidance
- More surgeries
- Wellness services such as massage, acupuncture and reflexology
- Personal services (aesthetics, cosmetic skin and body treatments, manicures, pedicures, waxing, facial treatment, artificial tanning)
- Movie theatres and theatres
- Community halls
- Team sports
- VLTs in restaurants and bars Casinos and bingo halls (but not table games)
- Instrumental concerts