If the provincial three-stage reopening plan announced Wednesday seems to be moving at a lightning pace, that’s because it is with the benchmark to trigger Stage Two, possible to be hit as soon as today.
And Stage One won’t be in effect until next week at the earliest.
But even if Stage Two benchmarks are reached today, which include hospitalizations under 500 and a 60 per cent vaccination rate – each sitting at 538 and 58.5 per cent respectively as of Wednesday – it’ll still be another two weeks before the lifting of restrictions under the plan.
For some Hatters enjoying a sunny spring Thursday afternoon in the city, it’s too much, too soon. While others say the lifting of restrictions can’t some fast enough.
With enough cookies, baked goods and coffee to feed far more than the half dozen women having a make-shift gathering in Central Park, Robin Sherwood says the pace of the reopening plan is “too fast.”
The biggest concern is the vaccination rates are based on only one vaccination rather than the two to ensure the full effect.
“Let’s wait until August,” said Sherwood.
But even within the small gathering, there were differences with Vivian Dooley saying she is fine with the current plan.
“It’s so nice to be with people,” said Dooley, adding, “I feel so bad for the children.”
If there was one thing she would change in the plan, it would be a faster opening of gyms and the library.
Ray Farris says the reopening can’t come fast enough while on a family outing in Kin Coulee.
“It’s time for things to open up,” said Farris. “I would do it now.”
The inability to gather in large numbers has hindered his faith-based community, reducing face-to-face and heart-to-heart interactions and stifling the ability to serve one another, he said.
“From a spiritual point of view, that’s hard,” said Farris, adding that accommodations can be made for those at higher risk of COVID.
But only a few metres away, Harry Horne says moving too fast could have bad consequences.
“The last thing we need is to have openings and then have to close everything six weeks from now,” said Horne.
Like Sherwood, he has concerns about the vaccination benchmarks not including the full two doses. He also noted the seemingly haphazard nature of the vaccination program, noting there were few people at the city’s vaccination clinic while there was an announcement at the Superstore that any shopper could get a shot immediately this week.
“It seems like every week we get different instructions,” he said.
For Omar Farhat who was flying a kite with his young daughter and her cousins by the Connaught Reservoir, it’s time to lift the restrictions.
“I don’t even know anyone with COVID,” said Farhat. “But I know it’s affecting a lot of people.”
Simple activities such as going camping with three or four other families have been impacted and the ability to get back that ability to gather is something he is looking forward to, Farhat said.
“It’s hard on the kids. They don’t understand COVID,” he said.
Stage Three of the provincial plan, which will mean lifting nearly all public health restrictions, has no benchmark for hospitalizations but will require 70 per cent of Albertans to be vaccinated.
That benchmark is currently projected to be hit next month with restrictions lifted two weeks after that point.
, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Medicine Hat News