COCHRANE— Alberta Premier Jason Kenney announced Monday (March 1) the province will be moving forward to cautiously ease additional public health restrictions.
Kenney praised Albertans for the efforts they have made to help curb the spread of COVID-19. These actions have allowed the province to move to Step 2 of the four-step framework to ease public health restrictions.
“By moving to Step Two we are protecting both lives and livelihoods, and taking a safe step forward for Alberta,” Kenney said.
Starting Monday (March 1) some restrictions have been eased for libraries allowing facilities to open to a limit of 15 per cent capacity, not including staff.
Indoor fitness facilities will be allowed to host low-intensity group activities indoors— High-intensity activities will only be allowed to occur one-on-one with a trainer. Wearing masks will be required during fitness activities and for coaches and trainers. All participants must remain three metres apart and drop-in fitness activities will not be allowed.
Current restrictions for retail, children’s sports and performance. hotels, banquets, community centres and conference centres will remain in place. A decision has not been made on when these restrictions will be eased.
Kenney noted under the current public health restrictions 99 per cent of Alberta businesses can operate in some form.
The province has gone from a peak of 950 COVID-related hospitalizations in December to 257 current hospitalizations.
Kenney added the number of active cases in long-term care cases has declined 95 per cent since December and designated supportive living have dropped 92 per cent
However, Kenney noted the number of active COVID-19 cases has levelled off and the testing positivity rate in the province has risen. The number of COVID-19 variant cases in the province is also seeing an increase.
To move to Step 3 of the four-step framework of additional health measure easements a hospital benchmark of 300 hospitalizations has been set, and Step 4 has a benchmark of 150 hospitalizations
“We’re not out of the woods, but we can continue taking small steps forward,” Kenney said. “We cannot and we must not allow exponential growth to start to take hold.”
Kenney said if COVID-19 cases continue to decline and the number of variant cases is under control the province will look into taking additional easements within Step Two of the framework.
He stressed indoor social gatherings are still restricted in the province. The current data available from contact tracing indicates more than 30 per cent of transmission is occurring within the home.
“We are watching the spread of this virus very closely,” Kenney said. “I believe in our province and I trust in Albertans to continue to do the right thing.”
The Town of Cochrane had a reported 10 active cases of the virus as of the end of the day Sunday (Feb. 28). To date 327 cases have been identified in Cochrane— Two people have died and 315 people have recovered.
In the last 24-hours, the province has identified 291 new cases of COVID-19 after completing about 5,900 tests.
The provincial testing positivity rate currently sits at 4.9 per cent.
There are 257 COVID-related hospitalizations in Alberta, including 48 patients in intensive care units.
The province reported two new COVID-related deaths in the last 24 hours. To date, 1,888 Albertans have died.
The province has administered 235,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to date, and more than 88,000 people have been fully immunized.
There are 4,674 active cases of COVID-19 in Alberta.