COVID-19: Kenney to outline Alberta’s plan to ease restrictions Wednesday morning

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney is scheduled to provide an update on COVID-19 and “opening for summer” on Wednesday.

A news release from the province says Kenney will speak at 11:30 a.m.

He will be joined by Health Minister Tyler Shandro and Jobs, Economy and Innovation Minister Doug Schweitzer.

Read more: Alberta’s number of active COVID-19 cases sees sharp decline as officials plan for summer reopening

The news release says the premier and officials will provide “the province’s strategy for safely easing restrictions.”

On the weekend, Kenney hinted at the upcoming announcement.

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In early May, Kenney announced outdoor gatherings would be cut to five people from a maximum of 10. Indoor social gatherings remained banned.

Customer capacity in retail stores, at 15 per cent of the fire code maximum, was reduced to 10 per cent. Worship services, also at 15 per cent capacity, were cut to a maximum of 15 people.

Barber shops, hair salons, tattoo parlours and other personal wellness services were ordered to close.

Restaurants, already closed to in-person dining, were also forced to shutter their patios. Take-out service has continued.

Read more: Vaccines and transmission: What factors will determine whether Alberta will reopen in 4-6 weeks?

During her news conference on Tuesday, chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw was asked about the specific benchmarks guiding the easing of restrictions.

She said vaccination rates and preventing transmission — and therefore reducing stress on hospitals and ICUs – are still key guiding factors in the reopening plan.

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More than 2,552,300 doses of vaccine had been administered as of May 24.

Click to play video: 'COVID-19 vaccine demand remains high in Alberta: Hinshaw' COVID-19 vaccine demand remains high in Alberta: Hinshaw

COVID-19 vaccine demand remains high in Alberta: Hinshaw

As of Tuesday, the province’s R-value had dropped to 0.67, Calgary’s reproductive value was 0.62 and Edmonton’s dropped to 0.71, Hinshaw said.

There were 565 people in hospital with COVID-19 on Tuesday, with 158 of them needing ICU care. Alberta Health reported nine COVID-19-related deaths. Out of about 4,000 tests, 387 new cases of COVID-19 were identified, putting the positivity rate at 9.9 per cent.

“We have seen a steady decline in new cases across the province, which is helping bring our active case count down as well,” Hinshaw said.

There were 12,078 active COVID-19 cases in Alberta on Tuesday. Just two weeks ago, there were 24,962 active cases of COVID-19 in the province. Hinshaw called the decline “remarkable.”

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Read more: ‘Great Alberta summer’: Kenney says reopening plan for Alberta in the works

“With cases declining and more vaccines being administered every day, we are rapidly approaching a point where we can safely begin to ease measures – it’s close, and getting closer every day,” Hinshaw said.

“We are also looking at our current 16-week timing for second doses and when we can begin to shorten that window based on incoming supply.”

Click to play video: 'Alberta waiting for results of COVID-19 vaccine mixing study to determine future of 2nd dose' Alberta waiting for results of COVID-19 vaccine mixing study to determine future of 2nd dose

Alberta waiting for results of COVID-19 vaccine mixing study to determine future of 2nd dose

— With files from The Canadian Press

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