Although Alberta was able to proceed into the next step of the COVID-19 reopening plan today, the health minister announced no restrictions would be lifted today.
“There will be no easing of any restrictions at this time,” Health Minister Tyler Shandro said. “This is the safe move. It’s the smart move to make for our province right now and it’s absolutely necessary to help avoid a third wave that would take more lives and once again put more strain on the hospital system.”
For Alberta to proceed into Step 3, the province had to have fewer than 300 people hospitalized due to COVID-19
“Today, while hospitalizations are below 300, they’ve risen in recent days,” Shandro said.
Authorities are attempting to avoid a surge like in November. "The number of people in hospital due to COVID-19 grew every two weeks starting in November," Dr. Deena Hinshaw said. On Nov. 12, there were 270 people in hospital. Just six weeks later, there were 927 people in hospital. “The reality is, once we hit a growth phase of this virus, the numbers will not stand still.”
The variants pose another concern, making up 16 per cent of all active COVID-19 cases in the province. There were 6,176 active cases on Monday. Two recent deaths in Edmonton were linked to outbreaks.
Some UCP MLAs have again called for a localized approach in the midst of the continued lockdown. "Cypress-Medicine Hat [only has] a handful of cases and a healthcare system with capacity," wrote MLA Drew Barnes. "50% of small business may not reopen, and the long-term effects on our economy and our families is very unclear."
To date, Alberta has administered 487,493 doses of COVID-19 vaccine and 93,414 Albertans are fully vaccinated.