Albertans will be able to go to the gym and eat in a restaurant again starting Feb. 8 after Premier Jason Kenney announced several COVID-19 restrictions will be lifted.
“These activities will still be bound by clear limitations,” Kenney warned.
Restaurants, pubs, bars, lounges and cafes will have to adhere to the following guidelines:
- A maximum of six people per table and individuals must be from the same household or two close contacts for people living alone
- Contact information must be collected from one person of the dining party
- Liquor service must end at 10 p.m. and in-person dining must close by 11 p.m.
- No entertainment like VLTS, pool tables or live music allowed
Children’s sports and performance activities will also be allowed to start up again if they are related to school activities and K-12 schools and post-secondary institutions are allowed to use off-site facilities to support curriculum-related educational activities.
Group or team sports are still not permitted, but one-on-one training for activities like fitness in dance studios or figure skating on ice will be, provided an appointment is made.
Those sessions will also need to follow several health guidelines:
- One-on-one sessions cannot interact with others and there must be a minimum of three metres distance between sessions in the same facility.
- Trainers must be professional, certified and/or paid trainers who are providing active instruction and correction. Passive supervision of a physical activity is not considered training.
- Trainers should remain masked during the session; clients are not required to wear a mask while exercising
- More than one trainer and client ‘pair’ are allowed into the facility, studio, rink, court, pool, ice surface, etc. so long as:
- Each trainer and client stay three metres away from all other trainers and clients at all times, including in entryways and exits.
- Each trainer can only interact with their assigned client, and each client can only interact with their assigned trainer.
- No interaction between clients or between trainers is allowed.
- No ‘cycling through’ multiple trainers as in circuit training.
The easing marks Step 1 of a four-step process that will track hospitalization numbers before easing restrictions
If Alberta’s hospitalization numbers reach the next benchmark within a three-week period, officials will make the decision as to whether the next round of restrictions should be lifted.
For Step 2, there will need to be fewer than 450 hospitalizations for things like retail, banquet halls, community halls to be eased.
In Step 3, adult team sports could resume, casinos, racing centres and bingo halls could reopen and there could be indoor gatherings with restrictions if there are fewer than 300 hospitalizations.
Once there are fewer than 150 hospitalizations, the province will look at getting back to restrictions similar to what were in place last summer.
“The more we see our numbers go down, the clearer our path forward becomes,” Kenney said. “But let’s not let our guard down.
“Let’s keep working hard to get those hospitalization numbers down so we can stand here sooner rather than later and announce more good news.”
On Friday, Dr. Deena Hinshaw announced there were 594 people in hospital, with 110 of those people in the ICU.
There were an additional 543 cases confirmed and about 11,600 tests performed. The province’s positivity rate sat at about 4.5 per cent.
Hinshaw also announced 14 more deaths related to COVID-19 had been reported to Alberta Health in the past 24 hours.
Of those nine were in the Edmonton zone.
Eight of those deaths were linked to outbreaks in the region. A woman in her 70s and a woman in her 90s who were both linked to the Jubilee Lodge Nursing Home outbreak have died as well as a man in his 80s linked to the outbreak at the Royal Alexandra Hospital and a woman in her 90s linked to the outbreak at Miller Crossing Care Centre.
The four other deaths all occurred at Summerwood Village Retirement Residence. A man in his 90s, a man in his 70s and two women in their 80s have all died.
All eight deaths related to outbreaks in the Edmonton zone had known comorbidities.
Also in the region, Alberta Health reported a man in his 60s with unknown comorbidities has died.
One death was reported in the Calgary zone: a man in his 90s who was linked to the outbreak at Intercare Southwood. His case included comorbidities.
Three deaths were reported in the Central zone with two linked to outbreaks.
A woman in her 80s linked to the Seasons Camrose outbreak and a man in his 80s linked to the outbreak at Vermilion Health Centre – Long Term Care have both died. Both cases included comorbidities.
A man in his 30s has also died in the Central zone. Alberta Health said he had no known comorbidities at this time.
A man in his 90s with unknown comorbidities in the North zone has also died.
“While the number of COVID fatalities are trending downward, every death is a tragedy to those who love them,” Hinshaw said.
As of Friday afternoon, there were active alerts or outbreaks about 291 schools or about 12 per cent of schools in the province. Schools had a total of 607 new cases.
Hinshaw also announced the province had identified 12 more cases of COVID-19 variants. To date, there have been 31 cases of the U.K. strain and six total cases of the strain from South Africa.
All cases were linked to travel except for three. Hinshaw said those three were all from the same household and one of those people was previously disclosed.