Reopening in Alberta begins June 1 with outdoor dining, all restrictions could be lifted by July
CALGARY -- Health measures in Alberta will begin being removed in three stages starting June 1, based on the vaccination rate going up and the hospitalization rate going down.
Premier Jason Kenney made the announcement on Wednesday, noting worship services can increase to 15 per cent of capacity starting Friday.
Beginning on Tuesday, the outdoor social gathering limit will increase to 10 people — with distancing — and outdoor dining will be allowed, with a maximum of four people per table, who must be members of the same household. Those who live alone can have up to two close contacts.
Personal and wellness services like hair salons can reopen by appointment. Wedding ceremonies can have up to 10 people, including the officiant, bride and groom, witnesses and photographers, but receptions remain prohibited.
Funeral ceremonies may have up to 20 people, not including facility staff, funeral clergy or organizers not considered guests. Receptions also remain prohibited
Distancing and masking requirements remain in effect
Indoor social gatherings are still not permitted.
"The plan provides Albertans with a clear picture of a summer without restrictions as long as Albertans continue following public health measures in the short term and vaccination numbers continue to rise quickly," read a release.
Stage 1 begins two weeks after 50 per cent of Albertans age 12 and up have received at least one dose of vaccine and hospitalizations are below 800 and declining. Since that happened on May 18, Stage 1 will start on June 1, Kenney said.
Stage 2 will start two weeks after first doses reach 60 per cent and hospitalizations are below 500 and dropping.
Stage 3 begins when 70 per cent of eligible Albertans have received a first dose.
Based on the current vaccination rate, Alberta is projected to enter Stage 2 in mid-June and Stage 3 in late-June or early-July.
"These are estimates only and rely on all Albertans continuing to drive down our hospitalizations while increasing vaccination numbers," read a release.
“Our Open for Summer Plan is a responsible plan to get back to normal while at the same time protecting our health care system. We will end this pandemic the same way we started it – by ensuring we have world-class healthcare available to every Albertan who needs it," said Health Minister Tyler Shandro.
Under Stage 2, outdoor fixed seating facilities, including grandstands, can open with one-third of seated capacity, and public outdoor gatherings, including festivals and concerts, will have capacity increased to 150 people, with restrictions including physical distancing in place.
McMahon Stadium would fall under a grandstand, which is welcome news to Calgary Stampeders fans, however the CFL is currently isn’t planning a return-to-play until August.
The Stampeders released a statement Wednesday, saying the team is "encouraged" by the announcement.
"The football team has been in contact with the province throughout the pandemic and will work closely with health officials on plans for the safe return of fans to McMahon Stadium for the 2021 season," it read.
The CFL has set Aug. 5 as the target date for the start of the season.
Also under Stage 2, arenas, cinemas, theatres, museums, art galleries and libraries can reopen their indoor setting with up to one-third of fire code occupancy.
While Stage 2 still includes restrictions on many festivals and summer events, Stage 3 would see all restrictions lifted depending on vaccination rates, by end of June or July.
Calgary Stampede and other summer festivals
Many Calgarians question what the reopening plans will mean for the Calgary Stampede, tentatively scheduled to run from July 9 to 18. If the reopening plan holds true that would be void of all restrictions.
According to its website, “Stampede 2021 will look different but it will be a unique and memorable celebration as we bring back a mix of the iconic Stampede experiences that you know and love.”
"We are extremely encouraged by the province’s Open for Summer plan, and celebrate our community’s commitment to safety in following the guidelines and stepping forward to get vaccinated," read a statement from communications manager Kristina Barnes.
"Like many in the province, we are now working to determine the implications of today’s announcement and we expect that plans for Stampede 2021 will continue to evolve over the coming weeks. One thing is certain – we will continue to focus on the safety of our community. We hope to be able to provide further information (Thursday)."
While no plans have been released, Kenney said he expects there will be a rodeo, "Because we worked with the feds to get exemptions on, or relaxations on quarantine requirements for foreign rodeo performers that are going to be headed north."
Kenney says he was told by Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi there will be no permit for a parade this year, "but maybe instead they have a scaled down parade on the Stampede grounds."
Strathmore and District Agricultural Society posted on their Facebook page that they’ve been approached by North American Midway Entertainment about using their space to quarantine staff arriving in Alberta in advance of the Stampede.
According to the post, discussions are in the early stages with nothing set in stone, but it says if they proceed and North American Midway Entertainment gets approval from health officials, midway workers would not be allowed to leave the quarantine area for 14 days, with 24-hour security in place to ensure nobody leaves.
“Part of their quarantine requirement is a large, outdoor, fenced space that has access to a wide range of services from shops to restaurants with delivery options. Needless to say, the Ag Grounds and the Town of Strathmore was their first call," the post reads.
"After such a trying year for our local businesses we viewed this as an opportunity to bring a significant amount of economic benefit to our local businesses, especially our restaurants."
In response, Kristina Barnes with the Calgary Stampede says, “Specific experiences, activities and operations, including the Midway, will continue to flex and adapt over the coming weeks based on the guidance provided and the evolving situation. That said, this is not your typical Stampede and it will look different.”