At the end of April, the Government of Alberta announced its plans to relaunch the economy, preparing for a staged approach to safely get people back to work by gradually reopening business and resuming activities. The road to recovery is still long and unknown, but if we continue to be vigilant in our approach to slowing the spread of COVID-19, follow public health measures, practice proper physical distancing and good hygiene, and overall act responsibly we can be successful.
As outlined on the Government of Alberta website, there are three stages of reopening. The first stage can start as early as May 14, but the timing for the next stages are unknown as we need to continuously monitor the situation and adjust accordingly.
Conditions for relaunch
To ensure a safer reopening, the following elements must be in place for the first stage of relaunch:
- Enhance our nation-leading testing capacity at the highest level in Canada
- Robust and comprehensive contact tracing, aided by technology, to quickly notify people who may have been exposed
- Support for people who test positive to enable effective isolation and contain spread
- Stronger international border controls and airport screening, especially for international travellers
- Rules and guidance for the use of masks in crowded spaces, like mass transit
- Strong protections for the most vulnerable, including those in long-term care, continuing care and seniors lodges
- A rapid response plan in the event of possible outbreaks of COVID-19
Key measures to watch and timing
Thanks to Albertans, the health care system continues to be able to cope with COVID-19. The plan to move forward requires careful monitoring and respecting all guidelines outlined by the chief medical officer of health. Each stage of relaunch will depend on our ability to keep infection numbers low. Health measures we are watching include hospitalizations and Intensive Care Unit (ICU) occupancy. Confirmed cases will be monitored in real time to inform proactive responses in localized areas of the province.
Stage 1: As early as May 14
Stage 1 allows some businesses and facilities to resume full operations as early as May 14 with enhanced infection prevention and controls in place. Mask use will be strongly recommended in crowded public spaces, like mass transit, that do not allow for physical distancing of 2 metres apart.
- Some retail businesses like clothing, furniture and book stores.
- All farmers’ market vendors.
- Some personal services like hairstyling and barber shops.
- More scheduled surgeries and dental procedures.
- Cafes, restaurants, pubs and bars can reopen for public seating at 50% capacity, but people will not be able to go to the bar to order drinks, they will need to be served at the table.
- Museums and art galleries.
- Some additional outdoor recreation.
- Daycares and out-of-school care, with occupancy limits.
- Summer camps, with occupancy limits (this could include summer school).
- Post-secondary institutions will continue course delivery, but method (online, in-person or blend) will depend on the restrictions in place at each phase.
- Gatherings of more than 15 people will not permitted.
- Gatherings of 15 people or fewer must follow physical distancing and other public health guidelines.
- Public attendance at businesses, facilities and events that have close physical contact will not be permitted, including: arts and culture festivals, major sporting events and concerts.
- Movie theatres, pools, recreation centres, arenas, spas, nightclubs and gyms will remain closed.
- Visiting patients in health care facilities will remain limited.
- In-school classes for kindergarten to Grade 12 students will remain prohibited.
- Non-essential travel, especially outside the province, will continue to not be recommended.
- Remote working is advised where possible.
Stage 2: Starting June 12
Stage 2 will allow additional businesses and services to reopen and resume operations starting June 12 with 2 metre physical distancing requirements and other public health guidelines in place. Business operators, sport and recreation services can determine if they are ready to open and ensure all guidance for workplaces is met.
What can open with restrictions
- K-12 schools, for requested diploma exams and summer school, following guidance
- more surgeries
- wellness services such as massage, acupuncture and reflexology
- personal services (esthetics, cosmetics skin and body treatments, manicures, pedicures, waxing, facial treatments, artificial tanning)
- movie theatres and theatres
- community halls
- team sports
- indoor recreation, fitness and sports, including gyms and arenas
- pools for leisure swimming
- VLTs in restaurants and bars
- bingo halls and casinos (but not table games)
- instrumental concerts
- provincial campgrounds at full capacity
Events and gatherings can be larger in stage 2
- 50 people maximum: indoor social gatherings, including wedding and funeral receptions, and birthday parties
- 100 people maximum: outdoor events and indoor seated/audience events, including wedding and funeral ceremonies
- No cap on the number of people (with public health measures in place):
- worship gatherings
- restaurant, cafes, lounges and bars
- bingo halls
- More flexibility for ‘cohort’ groups – small groups of people whose members do not always keep 2 metres apart:
- a household can increase its close interactions with other households to a maximum of 15 people
- performers can have a cohort of up to 50 people (cast members or performers)
- sports teams can play in region-only cohorts of up to 50 players (mini leagues)
- people could be part of a sports/performing and household cohort.
Still not approved in stage 2
- social gatherings that exceed above listed maximums
- regular in-school classes for kindergarten to Grade 12. Classes will resume September 2020
- vocal concerts (as singing carries a higher risk of transmission)
- major festivals and concerts, large conferences, trade shows and events (as these are non-seated social events and/or vocal concerts)
- amusement parks
- hookah lounges (permitted for food and drink only)
- major sporting events and tournaments
- non-essential travel outside the province is not recommended – this won’t be lifted until stage 3 of the relaunch strategy
The success of Stage 2 will determine when Alberta progresses to Stage 3. Factors are active cases, health-care system capacity, hospitalization and intensive care unit (ICU) cases, and infection rates.
Key Documents to Guide Your Reopening Plan
- Opening Soon: Alberta’s Relaunch Strategy: Download
- Workplace Guidance for Business Owners: Download