Some Alberta businesses will be allowed to reopen Thursday.
Premier Jason Kenney and Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, announced the provincial government will move forward with Stage 1 of the provincial relaunch strategy.
Albertans can expect restaurants, hair salons, barbers, places of worship and retail businesses to open in the relaunch’s first stage.
“I know that for some folks, this will feel like we’re moving too fast, and for others, like we’re moving too slowly,” said Kenney.
“That’s why I want to assure all Albertans, that at every single step, these decisions are being informed and guided by data and by the best scientific and public health advice available.”
The announcement was made at the provincial government’s daily update press conference Wednesday afternoon.
Provincially, 62 new COVID-19 cases were confirmed Wednesday, bringing the total to 6,345. Of these cases, 1,361 are active, 4,866 have recovered and 118 people have died.
The City of Red Deer is back to two active cases of COVID-19, according to geospatial mapping on the provincial government’s website. Thirty-five of the city’s 37 cases have now recovered.
Red Deer County has four active and 12 recovered cases.
The City of Lacombe still has two recovered cases and Lacombe County has three recovered cases. Ponoka County has one active and two recovered cases, Stettler County and Clearwater County both have two recovered cases, and Mountain View County has one active and six recovered cases.
Currently, 70 people in Alberta are hospitalized with COVID-19 – 13 of those individuals have been admitted into intensive care units.
If cases and hospitalization numbers spike, the government could reintroduce either regional or provincewide restrictions, Kenney said.
“On the other hand, if we manage Stage 1 reopening successfully, we’ll be able to move sooner into stages 2 and 3 of our relaunch than would otherwise be the case, which would be vital to the future of thousands of businesses and our overall economy,” he said.
Unlike the rest of the province, Calgary and Brooks will enter the first stage of relaunch in a phased approach, due to how many cases are located in those areas.
Each stage will be evaluated and monitored to determine if restrictions need to be adjusted, Kenney added.
“We’ll closely watch hospitalizations and ICU rates in particular.”
The Alberta Federation of Labour has urged the provincial government to delay the staged reopening of the economy by at least one month.
Before the government’s announcement Wednesday, public and private-sector union presidents voted to send a letter to the premier and Labour Minister Jason Copping saying that more needs to be done to guarantee the safety of workers and patrons in Alberta workplaces.
The government’s “guidance for employers on the subject of reopening the economy is weak, vague and often unclear,” said AFL president Gil McGowan.
“That’s why we’re calling for a one-month delay in the staged reopening of our provincial economy. We need to use that time to develop and implement enforceable measures that will keep working Albertans safe as they return to their jobs.”