As the province inches closer to Stage 2 of relaunch, many Albertans are looking forward to more social interactions through cohorts.
The province’s new guidelines on cohorts, set to take effect Friday, will allow Albertans to expand their social circles, though the chief medical officer of health said there must still be vigilance and diligence to limit the spread of the virus.
The concept of the cohort was introduced early in the pandemic to allow two households to interact with one another, and no one else, while not constantly thinking about physically distancing. At the time, Dr. Deena Hinshaw said it would allow children to socialize with another family’s children and provide child-caring opportunities for parents.
Starting Friday, small cohorts of friends and family from different households will be able to form cohorts of up to 15 people while performers and those on sports team can form cohorts of up to 50 people.
The recommendation is that individuals limit themselves to be a part of one household cohort, and can also be in a sports or performance cohort.
How you choose the members of a household cohort are up to you but Dr. Hinshaw said you have to keep risk in mind.
Each household has to consider their own particular context, what risk factors those members may have (for example, over the age of 60 or immune-compromised) and what risk level members feel comfortable with.
Albertans are able to be members of both a household cohort and a sports or performance cohort if they, and the members of their cohorts, are comfortable with the risks involved.
“These numbers do not guarantee safety,” Hinshaw said.
“What they do is they help us contain if there is an exposure of small outbreak, contain the number of people who would be exposed to make sure it doesn’t spread widely.”
Dr. Hinshaw said the guideline of 15 people within a household cohort is strategic.
“You would be able to then, if someone were to get sick or get COVID-19, quickly contain it.
“You would have a smaller group of people within whom to contact trace if there had been a recent gathering,” she said.
Alberta Health said, at this time, sharing food within a cohort is still not recommended. More guidance on cohorts is expected in the coming days. Spokesperson Tom McMillan said outdoor guidance would apply to the expanded cohort.
When it comes to performance and sports, the limits are up to 50 people in those cohorts.