Albertans Get Some COVID-19 Restrictions Relief

·2 min read

Alberta Health Minister Tyler Shandro announced that the province would be easing some of the current COVID-19 public health restrictions during a joint press conference on Jan. 14, 2021. Jobs, Economy and Innovation Minister Doug Schweitzer, and Alberta Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw also took part in this address.

Starting on Jan. 18, 2021:

· Outdoor social gatherings of up to 10 people will be permitted.

· Personal and wellness services will be able to reopen by appointment only. These services include hair salons, nail salons, massage, tattoos, and piercing services.

· Funeral service attendance will be increased to 20 people, although funeral receptions still will not be permitted.

While these restrictions have loosened from when they were implemented in December, Albertans will still need to continue to follow guidelines such as social distancing and wearing masks while indoors. All of the other restrictions and guidelines that were put in place in December remain in effect. Tyler Shandro said, “Albertans have done a good job of staying the course and abiding by public health measures, but we are still seeing high hospitalizations and case numbers, and this continues to put a serious strain on our health-care system. How much further we can ease restrictions depends on our collective efforts over the coming days and weeks to limit the spread of the virus.”

Expanded Small and Medium Business Supports

Jobs, Economy and Innovation Minister Doug Schweitzer announced that the province will expand the Small and Medium Enterprise Relaunch Grant to allow businesses that started operating between Mar. 1 and Oct. 31, 2020, to apply. Starting in February, eligible businesses could qualify to receive up to $15,000.

COVID-19 Reporting in Schools Updated

Alberta Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, announced that the terminology used to describe case numbers of COVID-19 in schools would be updated to make it more transparent and easier to understand. Starting on Jan. 18, the following terms will be used:

· Alert: One to four cases

· Outbreak: Five or more cases

Many parents reported finding the term “watch” confusing, and it will no longer be used. Dr. Hinshaw stressed that this change in terminology would not change the level of public health support that will continue to be provided to students, staff, and families. Parents will still be notified if there is a single case in their child’s school, and further supports will be put in place if there are two or more cases in a school.

Dean LaBerge, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Grizzly Gazette