With the pandemic shifting, so are the restrictions. On Wednesday, Dr. Deena Hinshaw announced that almost all COVID-19 restrictions are set to be dropped by Aug. 16.
With the increase of Albertans getting the COVID-19 vaccine, Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw announced that the Alberta Government is going to cut back on the last of the restrictions facing Albertans. Reaction to her announcement has been mixed across the province.
Lethbridge Mayor Chris Spearman says the announcement made yesterday is positive, but the community still needs to be diligent.
Opposition NDP leader, Rachel Notley says the NDP believes that the rate of immunizations across the province isn’t high enough to completely loosen restrictions.
Alberta will bring COVID-19 quarantine, isolation and measures in line with those used for influenza and other viruses. The province will be taking a two step approach when it comes to loosening restrictions starting on July 29.
Mayor Spearman adds, in order to limit a fourth wave, community members need to protect one another by rolling up their sleeves.
The second step is expected to come into place on Aug. 16. Notley says she is happy to be ending the pandemic, but believes the announcement has come too soon.
In order to avoid a rise in cases, Mayor Spearman is asking the community to do everything they can to help out.
Testing for severe cases, provincial monitoring, outbreak management in high-risk settings and other key measures will remain in place.
Changes effective July 29:
- Quarantine for close contacts will shift from mandatory to recommended. Isolation for anyone with COVID-19 symptoms and for confirmed positive cases is still required.
- All positive cases will continue to be notified. Contact tracers will no longer notify close contacts of exposure. Individuals are asked to inform their close contacts when informed of their positive result.
- Contact tracers will continue to investigate cases that are in high-risk settings such as acute and continuing care facilities.
- Outbreak management and identification will focus on high-risk locations, including continuing and acute care facilities and high-risk workplaces. Community outbreaks with a surge in cases leading to severe outcomes will also be addressed as needed.
- Asymptomatic testing is no longer recommended. Testing will continue to be available for individuals who are symptomatic.
- Mandatory masking remains in acute and continuing care facilities, publicly accessible transit, taxis, and ride-share.
Changes that take effect on Aug. 16:
- Provincial mandatory masking orders will be lifted. Some masking in acute care or continuing care facilities may still be required.
- Isolation following a positive COVID-19 test result will no longer be required, but strongly recommended.
- Individuals with symptoms of any respiratory infection should still remain at home until symptoms have resolved.
- Staying home when sick remains an important way to care for those around us by not passing on any infection.
- Isolation hotels and quarantine support will no longer be available.
- Testing will be available for Albertans with symptoms when it is needed to help direct patient care decisions.
- This testing will be available through assessment centres until Aug. 31 and, after that, will be in primary care settings including physicians’ offices. For those with severe illness requiring urgent or emergency care, testing will be available in acute care and hospital settings.
- COVID-19 testing will also be offered as needed in high-risk outbreaks such as in continuing care facilities.
- Public health will focus on investigating severe cases that require hospitalization and any deaths due to COVID-19.
- Outbreak management and preventative measures will continue focusing on outbreaks in high-risk settings, such as continuing and acute care facilities.
- Community outbreaks will continue to be addressed as needed.
- Daycares and schools will be supported with measures that would be effective for any respiratory virus if outbreaks are identified.