Limited school, youth team sports returning Monday; three new COVID-19 cases, five recoveries in Fort McMurray

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Limited school and minor sports training will be allowed to return on Monday as the province slowly relaxes COVID-19 restrictions.

The original relaxed rules allowed only school-related sports, such as gym class, to return. Games are still banned and indoor fitness for adults is limited to one-on-one training sessions.

Under the new rules, but school and minor sports teams can now have lessons, practices and conditioning activities for indoor and outdoor sports. There are still conditions to these new rules. They include:

Restaurants and bars can reopen, but tables are limited to six people. At least one person must provide contact information for contact tracing. Everyone must be from the same household, although people living alone can have a cohort of up to two people.

The second phase of Alberta's relaunch will feature potential easing in rules for banquet halls, community halls, conference centres, hotels, and sports and fitness.

The phase will be brought in three weeks after the number of COVID-19 patients in Alberta hospitals dip below 450. Alberta has 434 COVID-19 patients in hospitals, including 81 people in intensive care units. This trend must hold for another three weeks before lifting more rules can be considered.

During her Feb. 4 media briefing, Dr. Deena Hinshaw said this slow relaunch was necessary to prevent Alberta's health system from getting overwhelmed. A third wave is very possible if the relaunch is rushed, she said, especially now that Alberta has found more contagious mutations of COVID-19 first identified in the U.K. and South Africa.

On Feb. 3, Premier Jason Kenney described the relaunch as “baby steps” and said restrictions could return if the health system is once again threatened.

“That is why we are not relaxing measures for a large number of sectors all at once, like we did in the spring,” said Hinshaw. “It’s important that we take a slow, phased approach to ensure we aren’t doing too much too fast.”

-with files from Vincent McDermott

Sarah Williscraft, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Fort McMurray Today