Some Alberta health care services will be able to start operating again starting May 4 according to the province's phased relaunch strategy announced by Premier Jason Kenney.
Starting Monday, Alberta Health Services plans to resume some scheduled, non-urgent surgeries. Furthermore, as long as approved guidelines are followed, dental and other health-related services like physiotherapists, speech language pathologists, respiratory therapists, audiologists, social workers, occupational therapists, dieticians and more, can start to offer services again starting May 4.
It's also been announced that Alberta golf courses can open on May 4, however clubhouses and pro shops must remain closed. Shops and restaurants located on golf courses can only open once the province moves into 'Stage One' of the relaunch plan, which is anticipated to be as early as May 14 (more details below).
Some other restrictions will start to ease as early as Friday, May 1, including the reopening of vehicle access to parking lots and staging areas in parks and on public lands. Some boat launches in provincial parks will also open on May 1, with all expected to be open by May 14.
The province is working to reopen campsites as soon as possible to allow Albertans to enjoy parks while still following public health orders that remain in place. Private and municipal campgrounds will be allowed to open but must continue to abide by physical distancing restrictions.
The following points have been provided by the Government of Alberta when it comes to camping:
- At this time, sites are open to Albertans only. Check albertaparks.ca for updates.
- Group and comfort camping will not be offered. Campground facility access restrictions to areas such as showers, picnic and cooking shelters will also be posted to albertaparks.ca.
- Alberta Parks’ online reservation system will be available May 14 to book site visits beginning June 1. Out-of-province bookings will not be processed.
- No washrooms or garbage pickup will be available within provincial parks at this time. These services will be available as soon as Alberta Environment and Parks brings staff back. These seasonal positions represent an important opportunity for Albertans to secure employment during challenging economic times.
- Fire bans in parks, protected areas and the Forest Protection Area remain in place.
- No off-highway vehicle restrictions are currently in place. Local restrictions may be required if the risk for wildfires increases.
“There are signs that our collective efforts of physical distancing, good hygiene practices, and staying home when advised are helping to slow the spread," says Dr. Deena Hinshaw. "However, we must guard against complacency and be patient to ensure the sacrifices we have already made to contain the virus are not wasted by carelessness as we gradually reopen businesses and services.”
Alberta will only move into 'Stage One' of the relaunch strategy once Dr. Hinshaw deems it safe to do so. Premier Kenney says the stages are not set in stone and that the province will constantly monitor the situation and make adjustments. To get to Stage One, which could be as soon as May 14, the province will ensure the following are in place:
- Enhancing our nation-leading COVID-19 testing capacity at the highest level in Canada.
- Robust and comprehensive contact tracing, aided by technology, to quickly notify people who may have been exposed.
- Support for those who test positive for COVID-19, to enable isolation and effectively contain the spread.
- Stronger international border controls and airport screening, especially for international travellers.
- Rules and guidance for the use of masks in crowded spaces, especially on mass transit.
- Maintaining strong protections for the most vulnerable, including those in long-term care, continuing care and seniors lodges.
Highlights of Stage One:
- With increased infection prevention and controls, to minimize the risk of increased transmission of infections, some businesses and facilities can start to gradually resume operations as early as May 14:
- Retail businesses, such as clothing, furniture and bookstores. All vendors at farmers markets will also be able to operate.
- Some personal services like hairstyling and barber shops.
- Museums and art galleries.
- More scheduled surgeries, dental procedures, physiotherapy, chiropractic, optometry and similar services.
- Daycares and out-of-school care with limits on occupancy.
- Summer camps with limits on occupancy. This could include summer school.
- Cafés, restaurants (minors allowed in liquor licensed establishments) with no bar service to reopen for public seating at 50 per cent capacity.
- Some additional outdoor recreation.
- Post-secondary institutions will continue to deliver courses, however how programs are delivered – whether online, in-person, or a blend – will be dependent on what restrictions remain in place at each relaunch phase.
- The use of masks will be strongly recommended in certain specific crowded public spaces, like mass transit, that do not allow for physical distancing (two metres apart).
The following will still not be permitted during Stage One:
- Gatherings of more than 15 people. (Gatherings of 15 people or fewer must follow personal distancing and other public health guidelines.)
- Arts and culture festivals, major sporting events, and concerts, all of which involve close physical contact.
- Movie theatres, theatres, pools, recreation centres, arenas, spas, gyms and nightclubs will remain closed.
- Visitors to patients at health-care facilities will continue to be limited.
- In-school classes for kindergarten to Grade 12 students.
The following recommendations will remain in place during Stage One:
- Non-essential travel, especially travel outside the province, is not recommended.
- Remote working is advised where possible.
Depending on the success of Stage One, the capacity of the health-care system, the rate and number of infections, hospitalization and ICU cases, Alberta may be able to move onto Stage Two, with no firm dates at this time.
Highlights of Stage Two:
- Will allow additional businesses and services to reopen and resume operations with two metre physical distancing requirements and other public health guidelines in place. This includes:
- Potential kindergarten to Grade 12 schools, with restrictions.
- More scheduled surgeries, including backlog elimination.
- Personal services, such as artificial tanning, esthetics, cosmetic skin and body treatments, manicures, pedicures, waxing, facial treatments, massage and reflexology.
- Permitting of some larger gatherings (number of people to be determined as we learn more about the levels of risk for different activities) in some situations.
- Movie theatres and theatres open with restrictions.
- Visitors to patients at health-care facilities will continue to be limited.
The following will still not be permitted during Stage Two:
- Nightclubs, gyms, pools, recreation centres, and arenas will remain closed.
- Arts and culture festivals, concerts, attendance at major sporting events and other mass gatherings will continue to not be permitted.
The following recommendations will remain in place during Stage Two:
- Non-essential travel is not recommended.
Once again, moving on to Stage Three will be determined based on the success of the first stages, therefore no firm timeline is known.
Highlights of Stage Three:
- Fully reopening all businesses and services, with some limited restrictions still in place.
- Permitting larger gatherings (number of people to be determined).
- Permitting arts and culture festivals, concerts and major sporting events with some restrictions.
- Permitting nightclubs, gyms, pools, recreation centres and arenas to reopen with restrictions.
- Resuming industry conferences with restrictions.
- No restrictions on non-essential travel.