Thursday was the first day of Phase 1 in Alberta’s staged relaunch strategy and saw some retail stores, restaurants, museums and daycares reopen.
Dr. Deena Hinshaw said 4,816 COVID-19 tests had been done in the last 24 hours and 50 new cases confirmed.
More than 5,200 Albertans have recovered from COVID-19, bringing the number of active cases to 1,131, the chief medical officer of health said.
One more Albertan died from the virus – a man in his 90s at Intercare Brentwood Continuing Care centre in Calgary. A total of 121 people have died in Alberta from COVID-19.
As of Thursday, there were 65 people in hospital, 10 of whom were in intensive care units.
Hinshaw said as some businesses prepare to reopen their doors to customers, she’s heard concerns about safety and reassuring Albertans.
She said, within seven days of opening, businesses must explain the health and safety precautions they’re implementing to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
They can find the short template online under the Alberta Biz Connect site, fill it out, and either post it on their website or physically post it in their business.
“This action is intended to give a clearer sense of what measures are appropriate for each location and to reassure customers and staff that each business is taking appropriate action to protect their health and safety,” Hinshaw said.
Funeral homes and places of worship must do the same, Hinshaw said.
She also clarified that types of businesses not listed in either Phase 2 or Phase 3 are allowed to reopen in Phase 1.
“If you are a business owner, please know you have flexibility in choosing the right time to open after the stage that your business is in begins.
“And you must feel confident that you are reopening at a time that is safe for you, your staff and your patrons.”
Hinshaw stressed that just because some Alberta are starting to reopen, “this does not mean it’s back to normal.”
She said physical distancing and frequent hand washing requirements will remain in place for some time.
Calgary and Brooks will take a more gradual relaunch timeline, as those two cities have about 75 per cent of Alberta’s cases.
Hinshaw said she’s heard from some residents of Calgary and Brooks that the delay is unfair to them.
“The recommendations I have made are never taken lightly,” she explained, adding that a balance is being sought between protecting Albertans’ health and allowing the economy to recover.
“Our best path is seeking that balance and making adjustments along the way.”
Phase 1 will be rolled out more gradually in those two cities: on May 14, May 25 and June 1. For more information on what can open when in Calgary and Brooks, and in other parts of Alberta, click here.
Hinshaw said that people in Calgary and Brooks should wait for services and businesses that will now see a delayed reopening rather than visiting other jurisdictions where those services can reopen.
“The reason for this 10-day wait is to allow us to monitor any increase in spread caused by the opening of retail, daycares and other activities in these communities where there is a higher baseline rate.
“Although a full incubation period for COVID-19 is 14 days, in other jurisdictions where reopening has started, it’s been possible to see rapid rise within seven days where there have been problems.”
How restaurants, places of worship, retail can reopen
Hinshaw clarified how certain businesses can reopen in Phase 1 while adhering to public health orders around distancing and large groups.
For dine-in service, restaurants can have 50 per cent of their maximum capacity inside, with no more than six people at one table and at least two metres between tables.
“Each table of six is distanced from each other and the tables are not interacting with each other,” Hinshaw said.
There can be more than 15 people inside the restaurant, Hinshaw said, but the different groups aren’t interacting.
Places of worship
Places of worship can have one-third of their typical worship attendance or 50 people, whichever is smaller, as long as physical distancing can be maintained.
There can be no group activities, like group singing or socializing, after the service.
“There is an institutional responsible party who is accountable for ensuring that communities of faith are following the distancing rules, sitting separate from each other and not engaging in socialization before or after the service,” Hinshaw said Thursday.
“I know this will be very difficult for these communities, and I ask that they choose other ways to show their friends how much they have missed being together. Perhaps connecting by phone before or after a service or other creative ways to connect.”
There are no set maximum capacities for retail stores.
Hinshaw said because settings differ, businesses can decide to limit the number of people inside the store at one time.
Locations must make it possible for patrons to stay two metres apart.
There are 100 active cases and 569 recovered cases at continuing care facilities; 87 residents at these facilities have died.
There are 16 active cases among workers from the Cargill meat processing plant in High River, and 932 have recovered.
There are 14 active cases among workers from JBS Foods Canada in Brooks, and 627 have recovered.
Five active cases have been confirmed at Harmony Beef, and 35 individuals have recovered.
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