As Alberta added 750 additional cases of COVID-19, 1,210 new recoveries and 19 new fatalities on Sunday, some businesses are preparing to open Monday under the province’s latest round of relaxed restrictions.
Last Thursday, Health Minister Tyler Shandro announced starting Jan. 18, personal and wellness services may reopen but by appointment only.
The loosening of restrictions comes as 19 new deaths — the majority of whom were seniors — bring the fatality total in the province to 1,436. Details on the people who passed away from the disease are available in the lower portion of this article.
The 750 new cases Sunday come from a total of 11,484 tests, equaling a provincial positivity rate of 6.5 per cent.
There are now 738 people in hospital, 123 of whom are in intensive care.
The province also vaccinated an additional 4,384 people for COVID-19 by end of day on Jan. 16, bringing the total number of doses administered to 85,935.
Active cases in Alberta sit now at 12,234, nearly 500 cases less than Saturday’s active number. The province reported 1,210 new recoveries, which outweighed the 750 new cases.
Businesses overwhelmed with bookings ahead of reopening
Some businesses across the province will reopen again Monday after they were shut down under restrictions that went into place Dec. 13. Once the government announced personal wellness businesses would be permitted to open on Jan. 18, it was a rush to get ready for customers.
“Within five minutes after the announcement, things blew up to a positive way. We all headed in here until about 10 o’clock that night, answering calls, emails and just get a jump start on it,” Chad Stewart, the owner of Edmonton’s Concrete Blonde, said.
Concrete Blonde offers hair services, esthetics, tattoos and massages.
While Stewart said he welcomed the news that he could once again reopen, he added the amount of work has been overwhelming.
“I’ve been booking right now all the way until the end of March,” he said. “We have some stylists that booked three months out already, and that’s just from Thursday.”
The list of the personal wellness services that will be allowed to open by appointment only are:
- Hairstyling and barbering
- Esthetics, manicure, pedicure, body waxing, make-up
- Body, nose and ear piercing, and tattoos
- Artificial tanning and spray tanning
- Facial, eyebrow and eyelash treatments
- Cosmetic skin and body treatments
- Laser hair and tattoo removal
- Floatation tanks
- Colonic irrigation
Massage services remained open during the lockdown but only with a referral. Starting Monday, no referrals will be needed to book an appointment.
Registered massage therapist Heather Kew said the process of getting a massage referral was challenging for clients, and despite that exemption, business remained slow.
“All of the sudden, we’re getting a lot of online bookings. We’re getting a lot people who are phoning in asking us if they can book in and asking, ‘Is it true? Do we still need a referral letter?'” Kew said.
Owners say they are excited to welcome clients back but hope they can stay open.
“It’s a lot of work to book 52 staff’s appointments, and then to cancel those appointments, and then to rebook them,” Steward said.
“That yo-yo effect hasn’t been fun for us. We go with it because we have no choice. We’re hoping that doesn’t continue moving forward.”
Outdoor gatherings of up to 10 people will also be permitted again starting Monday as long as everyone is wearing masks and keeping at least two metres apart.
Indoor gatherings and in-person dining will remain restricted.
Eight of the deaths were in Edmonton zone, seven were in Calgary zone, and Central zone and North zone each had two fatalities.
In Edmonton zone, all but one death was connected to outbreaks at continuing care centres, assisted living and hospitals.
At Edmonton zone hospitals, a man in his 70s linked to the Grey Nuns Community Hospital and a woman in her 70s at the Glenrose Rehabilitation Hospital died. The man was believed to have pre-existing conditions.
At Edmonton zone care homes, a man in his 50s and a woman in her 80s died at the Hardisty Care Centre. They were both believed to have comorbidities.
Two women in their 80s, one with comorbidities who lived at MacTaggart Place Retirement Residence and another at Aspen House, also died.
A man in his 80s with pre-existing conditions at the Ashbourne assisted living centre died.
A man in his 60s, not connected to any outbreaks but with pre-existing conditions, also died in Edmonton zone.
In Calgary zone, two women in their 80s, both with pre-existing conditions, died at the Agecare Skypointe and Academy of Aging centres.
Two men in their 80s — one at the Edgemont Revera Retirement Residence believed to have comorbidities and the second at Manor Village at Fish Creek Park — also died.
A woman in her 90s at the Sagewood Agecare centre outbreak passed away.
Two men in their 60s in Calgary zone, one of whom is believed to have pre-existing conditions, died.
The two people who died in Central zone, a man in his 60s and a woman in her 80s, were not linked to outbreaks but both were believed to have comorbidities.
In North zone, a man in his 70s linked to an outbreak at Prairie lake Supporting Living died and a woman in her 60s, not connected to an outbreak, also passed away. Both were believed to have pre-existing conditions.
No deaths were reported in South zone.