Fully open by June 28?

·3 min read

The success of the province’s open-for-summer plan lies in the hands of Albertans, premier Jason Kenney said in a Tuesday noon-time address.

Kenney is urging people to get vaccinated as soon as possible since it is one of the key triggers in a three-stage opening plan.

Each of the three stages is tied to vaccination rates, and hospitalization numbers.

The premier said Alberta could reach a complete re-opening as early as June 28.

The first stage will commence two weeks after 50 per cent of Albertans over the age of 12 have received one dose and hospitalization numbers are below 800.

“Since hospitalizations are currently at 548 and we reached 50 per cent vaccinations on May 18, stage one will be entered in the coming days as a careful step forward.”

Starting today (Thursday):

-Worship gatherings will increase to 15 per cent of fire code occupancy

On June 1:

-Larger outdoor gatherings permitted to 10.

-Retail stores back to 15 per cent

- Hair salons and personal wellness services can re-open by appointment only

- Outdoor youth sports up to 10 participants

- Restaurants may re-open for patio dining, with a limit of four per table

Kenney said Albertans didn’t stop the spike, “they crushed it”.

“Hospitalizations have stabilized and our ICU numbers are coming down,” he said. At 548 as of Wednesday, hospitalizations are down by 150 from only a week ago, Kenney said. ICU numbers are down from 187 on May 18 to 157 as of Tuesday.

Kenney said 58 per cent of eligible Albertans have been vaccinated as of Wednesday and, considering the number of appointments currently booked even accounting for “no shows”, “we could hit our first trigger tomorrow so we could enter Stage 2 on or about June 10.”

According to the open-for-summer plan, Stage 2 will be launched two weeks after 60 per cent of eligible Albertans have received at least one dose, and hospitalizations are 500 or lower.

Then:

- Libraries and movie theatres can open

- Gyms can open

- Outdoor gatherings of up to 20 are permitted

- Restaurants can open for indoor dining of up to 6 per table to one-third of their

Two weeks after 70 per cent are vaccinated (with no hospitalization threshold), Stage 3 will kick in. In this final stage, Kenney said most restrictions “will be history” including the ban on indoor gatherings.

“I’m confident we can reach this benchmark by early July,” he said.

Nearly 2.6 million vaccination doses have now been administered – approximately half a million just in the last two weeks, Kenney said.

Kenney also said the province is extending the application intake to June 30 for small and medium sized businesses that have experienced a 30 per cent or more revenue reduction due to COVID.

The relaunch grant offers financial assistance to Alberta businesses, co-operatives and non-profit organizations with fewer than 500 employees; eligible organizations will receive a payment of up to $10,000, which follows the previous intake that provided up to $20,000.

Approximately 15,000 applications have been received to date for the grant program, said Kenney.

As of May 25, the County of Grande Prairie has 172 active COVID-19 cases, with a total of 12,078 cases in the province.

As of May 24, in the County of Grande Prairie, there have been at least 7,385 people immunized with at least one dose and an additional 4,234 people in the Beaverlodge West County area, according to the provincial government.

All Albertans aged 12 and older are now eligible for a vaccine and can book appointments through AHS or participating pharmacies.

The province has also introduced a new bill that allows up to three hours of paid leave for employees to get their vaccination.

Jesse Boily, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Town & Country News

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