EDITOR’S NOTE: This article originally said Alberta currently has 1,173 active COVID-19 cases. It has been corrected to say the province currently has 1,773 active cases. We regret the error.
Masks will still be required when riding transit, in rideshares and in continuing care and acute care settings even as Alberta reaches Stage 3 of the COVID-19 reopening plan.
Dr. Deena Hinshaw made the announcement Tuesday afternoon.
“As cases drop and vaccinations rise, we all must get ready to face a new kind of challenge: learning to live with COVID as restrictions ease and life starts to feel closer to the one we knew before COVID-19 arrived,” she said.
When Premier Jason Kenney announced Alberta’s Open for Summer plan, he said there would likely be masking mandates in effect in some circumstances, but didn’t elaborate at the time.
According to Hinshaw, the close indoor environment of transit, taxis and rideshares puts drivers and passengers at a higher risk of transmission.
The province is in discussion with regulated health professionals in acute care and continuing care to determine the right path forward as the province opens up.
Continuing care residents, family members and operators will also be able to take part in a town hall-type setting in the coming weeks to share their thoughts on restrictions lifting in those facilities.
Hinshaw urges patience as province gets ready to reopen
On July 1, most COVID-19 restrictions across the province will be lifted and Hinshaw is urging Albertans to move at their own pace and to be patient with others as life changes from the circumstances we’ve lived with for 16 months.
“Now, as restrictions are easing, we need to learn to live with this virus without these rules,” Hinshaw said.
“This means entering a time with less mandatory barriers on what we do, while also being thoughtful about how we manage risks.”
According to Hinshaw, precautions like avoiding crowded indoor areas or wearing a mask remain “reasonable choices” for those who may be at risk or haven’t been fully vaccinated yet.
“If you’re not ready to do something or want to take extra precautions, that’s perfectly OK.”
While most restrictions will be lifted, the mask mandate outlined on Tuesday as well as isolation requirements for confirmed cases, quarantine measures for those who aren’t fully immunized and protective measures in continuing care centres remain in place even after Alberta enters Stage 3.
It’s also important to continue practices like good hand hygiene and staying home if sick, Hinshaw said.
Another big change as Alberta prepares to enter Stage 3 will be the absence of Hinshaw’s sometimes daily news conferences. June 29 will be her last regularly scheduled update.
“We have been through a lot together, and while COVID-19 will be with us for some time, cases are falling quickly and vaccine uptake is rising,” Hinshaw said.
The province also won’t be providing updates on the weekend anymore, but will update daily numbers online during the week.
Reporting on the province’s “R” value will shift to two-week intervals.
“With cases so low, this will give a more accurate depiction of how COVID is spreading,” Hinshaw said.
Alberta Health will continue to provide live COVID-19 updates “as needed,” she added.
Tuesday COVID-19 numbers
On Tuesday, Alberta Health announced an additional 57 cases of COVID-19 had been confirmed over the past 24 hours.
Over the same time period, the province conducted 5,019 COVID-19 tests, putting the positivity rate at about 1.4 per cent.
Since Monday’s update, another 38 cases of variants of concern were identified.
There were 200 Albertans in hospital with COVID-19, with 54 of those in the ICU.
Alberta has 1,773 active COVID-19 cases.
“Our numbers are declining quickly, which is a testament to the power of vaccine and the way Albertans are all helping protect each other,” Hinshaw said.
Alberta Health confirmed one additional death over the last 24 hours. A man in his 60s with comorbidities has died in the Central zone.
Through review of previous COVID-19 deaths, Alberta Health confirmed three previously reported deaths were not related to COVID-19. As a result, Alberta’s COVID-19 death toll has dropped by two to 2,290.
As of Monday, Alberta had administered 3,854,208 doses of COVID-19 vaccine, more than 45,000 of those doses were administered on Monday alone.
To date, 70.8 per cent of eligible Albertans have one dose, while 30.4 per cent of eligible Albertans are fully immunized.
As of Tuesday, 231,476 Albertans have contracted COVID-19 and 227,413 have recovered.