Alberta will lift almost all public health restrictions on July 1, as the province moves into the final stage of its reopening plan after more than 70 per cent of Albertans received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
Premier Jason Kenney announced the decision on Friday, alongside Health Minister Tyler Shandro. As of Thursday night, 70.2 per cent of Albertans had received their first dose, allowing the government to move forward with its decision to lift restrictions.
“I never doubted that we would reach this milestone together,” Kenney said. “That we’d pull together as a province, as a people, and get’er done in the true Alberta spirit.”
Most of the health restrictions put in place to contain the spread of COVID-19, such as the ban on indoor gatherings and capacity limits placed on restaurants, will no longer be in effect as of July 1.
“On Canada Day, virtually all restrictions on COVID-19 will be lifted,” Kenney announced.
Some guidelines will still remain in specific circumstances. Those who test positive for COVID-19 will still be required to isolate, and preventive measures will remain in place for those in continuing care.
While the province-wide mandatory mask mandate will be lifted, masking may also still be required in specific circumstances.
In his remarks, Kenney described the decision as shifting Alberta’s COVID-19 response away from mandatory government restrictions and towards stronger vaccination efforts.
“Mark it on the calendar folks,” Kenney said. “On July 1, Alberta isn’t just open for summer but, I believe, will be open for good.”
Albertans vaccinated in May eligible for second dose
Alongside the decision to lift health restrictions, Shandro announced that Albertans who received their first vaccine dose in May are now eligible to receive a second dose. This expansion of vaccine rollout comes 11 days earlier than initially planned by the provincial government.
“Thanks to the improved vaccine supply from the federal government, we’re now able to get second doses into the arms even faster,” Shandro said.
Those who received their first dose in June will also become eligible for their second dose four weeks after their initial shot.
Albertans who received the AstraZeneca vaccine, however, are recommended to wait eight weeks after their first dose to ensure they maximum protection from the vaccine.
During the announcement, Shandro also encouraged Albertans who haven’t received their first dose to book an appointment now.
“Remember, this latest news on second doses does not mean first doses are over,” Shandro shared. “You can still get a first dose, it’s the right thing to do.”
Summer 2021 semester to remain as planned, says U of A
Following the government’s decision to lift public health restrictions, the University of Alberta’s Public Health Response Team (PHRT) announced that the Summer 2021 semester, which starts on July 5, will remain unchanged.
“While [stage 3] will remove public health restrictions at the provincial level, Summer 2021 at the university is expected to remain as originally planned,” the PHRT said in an email addressed to students, faculty, and staff.
The statement encourages students to check Bears Track to confirm whether their courses are taught remotely or in-person.
Additionally, many public health restrictions remain in effect at the U of A. According to the PHRT’s statement, masking and physical distancing will remain required on campus “until further notice.” Campus members under a remote work order will also continue to work from home unless otherwise notified.
Phased entry into campus will begin in August for employees and continue into Fall. The PHRT said students can expect to hear more details about the Fall 2021 semester next week.