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Hinshaw urges respect for COVID-19 comfort levels as some businesses continue vaccine checks

Click to play video: 'Some Edmonton businesses taking a cautious approach to easing COVID-19 restrictions'
Some Edmonton businesses taking a cautious approach to easing COVID-19 restrictions
While many COVID-19 restrictions are lifting in Alberta, some businesses are taking a cautious approach, including Edmonton’s Varscona Theatre. This comes as Alberta’s chief medical officer of health is reminding us that people have different risk tolerances. Kim Smith reports – Feb 16, 2022

While many COVID-19 restrictions are lifting in Alberta, some people and businesses are taking a cautious approach and implementing their own policies.

Edmonton’s Varscona Theatre off Whyte Avenue, for example, will continue asking for proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test.

The executive director of the Varscona said the decision comes after speaking with a number of stakeholders, artists and patrons, many of whom are older and in a higher-risk category for complications from COVID-19.

“The feedback that we heard was that the easing of restrictions was too soon (and) that they would not be attending the theatre if there was no proof of vaccinations being checked at the door,” said Kendra Connor, the executive director of the Varscona Theatre.

Read more: Alberta business group slams decision to eliminate COVID-19 vaccine passport program

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Connor said the Varscona Theatre has recorded a more than 50 per cent decline in revenue from shows over the past two years, partly due to closures.

“We know that our patrons have a real feeling of insecurity about coming into the theatre,” Connor said.

“If we aren’t managing their concerns then we’re not going to sell tickets, which we badly need.”

At Tuesday’s provincial COVID-19 update, Alberta’s chief medical officer of health said as restrictions ease, Albertans need to respect each other’s comfort levels and risk tolerance to the disease.

“For some Albertans, this transition will seem quick and easy. For others, it will be much more challenging. For many people, it will likely be somewhere in between. There is no one right way to respond to these changes. So we should expect different responses,” Dr. Deena Hinshaw said.

“Everyone’s experience to the pandemic has been unique, depending on the challenges they have faced.”

Click to play video: 'COVID-19: Alberta’s top doctor says province is in transition'
COVID-19: Alberta’s top doctor says province is in transition

As of Monday, masking for students in Alberta schools is optional and in Step 2 of Alberta’s plan to ease restrictions, indoor masking will no longer be required.

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“Masking remains a very prudent public health measure and those who are wearing masks need to be supported. Those who are no longer wearing masks also need support, so the single issue does not drive wedges in our communities,” Hinshaw said.

Read more: COVID-19: Alberta doctors, mayors react to Kenney removing vaccine passport, restrictions

Indoor masking for people aged 13 and older in Alberta remains in effect until at least March 1.

Wednesday’s COVID-19 data

Fourteen additional deaths were reported to Alberta Health over the last 24 hours, bringing the province’s death toll to 3,804.

The number of people in hospital declined by 38 people from 1,538 patients Tuesday to 1,500 on Wednesday.

The number of people in ICU with COVID-19 dropped slightly from 123 people Tuesday to 121 people Wednesday.

There were 888 new lab-confirmed cases of COVID-19 reported Wednesday from 4,117 tests. The positivity rate was 24.48 per cent.

Lab-confirmed active cases dropped from 19,050 Tuesday to 17,674 Wednesday.

Because of limited access to PCR testing, Alberta health officials have said the actual number of new and active cases in the community is much higher than what’s being reported daily by the province.

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