Alberta could enter Stage 2 of its reopening plan as early as June 10 after the province announced more than 60 per cent of eligible people have received their first shot of COVID-19 vaccine.
The benchmark, hitting 60.3 per cent, allows the province to enter Stage 2 of its open for summer plan as early as June 10 as long as the number of people in hospital with COVID-19 drops below 500 with signs that number will continue to fall. A news release issued by the province Friday said there are currently 517 patients throughout Alberta receiving treatment for the disease. There are currently 147 people in intensive care.
“With our vaccination program protecting more Albertans every day and fewer Albertans in hospital due to COVID-19, we are on the right track to a safe reopening,” said Premier Jason Kenney in the news release.
Alberta began loosening restrictions Friday with places of worships now allowed to open to 15 per cent of fire code capacity. Restrictions on retail spaces, personal wellness services, restaurants and outdoor gatherings will ease next Tuesday as the province fully enters Stage 1.
Stage 2 will allow for larger outdoor gatherings and further easing of restrictions around places of worship and retail spaces. Gyms and recreation centres can open for solo activity and weddings and funerals can have up to 20 people in attendance. Post-secondary classes can move to in-person and the work from home order will be lifted but still be recommended. Indoor entertainment areas and libraries can open to one-third of their total capacity.
Almost all public health measures will be removed two weeks after 70 per cent of Albertans aged 12 and up receive their first jab.
While the current open for summer plan is centered around one dose uptake, health officials, including Keney and chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw, have continuously stated that it is still very imporant for everyone to get a second dose.
Prior to announcing Friday’s benchmark, Kenney said that plans surrounding a second dose rollout are expected to be announced early next week.
“We’ll be making an announcement early next week about opening up bookings for secondary shots. It is important to underscore that we are well ahead of the rest of Canada already in administering second doses,” said Kenney.
About nine per cent of Albertans are fully immunized. Health Canada numbers show the national average of people who have received both doses is just over four per cent.
Alberta reported 512 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday after completing 7,703 tests in the previous 24 hours.
Active cases dropped to 8,870, down from 10,017 on Thursday. The last time there were less than 10,000 cases in the province was on April 2.