Although originally it only said it was going to allow some indoor and outdoor children's sport and performance in schools, an announcement on Saturday from the province says limited minor team sports will also be allowed as a part of Step One of reopening on Monday, February 8.
The announcement comes as a surprise to minor sports organizations. Hockey Calgary wrote on Twitter that it was the first they had heard about the province's change of heart.
All minor sports games are still prohibited.
On Monday, the first step of Alberta's four-step plan to gradually ease restrictions if the pressure on the health system continues to decline will take place. The first step calls for restrictions on restaurants, indoor fitness, and indoor and outdoor children's sport and performance activities to be eased if hospitalizations were under 600. On Friday just 475 Albertans were in hospital with 89 in the ICU, so today the province announced the ease in restrictions would go ahead.
While limited indoor and outdoor activities for school and minor sports are being allowed, strong public health measures remain in place:
- All participants must be 18 years old or younger, excluding coaches or trainers.
- A maximum of 10 individuals, including all coaches, trainers, and participants, can participate.
- All participants must maintain physical distancing from each other at all times.
- Participants must be masked at all times, except when engaged in the physical activity.
- Coaches and trainers must remain masked at all times.
- There must be limited access to change rooms, including for accelerated arrival and departure, for emergencies, and for washroom use.
All other previously announced measures set to ease in Step One will also be permitted starting on February 8th.
Indoor masking and distancing requirements will remain in place throughout this stepped approach, and some degree of restrictions will still apply to all activities within each step.
A decision on Step Two will be made if, after three weeks, there are 450 or fewer hospitalizations and the number is declining. Step Three will happen at 300 hospitalizations with the final step occurring when hospitalizations hit 150.
Metrics based on cases and growth, including COVID-19 variants, are being monitored and will also be used to guide any decisions around the need to pause further steps or potentially increase restrictions.