Alberta lifts almost all remaining COVID-19 public health restrictions

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Alberta Premier Jason Kenney and Health Minister Jason Copping will today mark the lifting of almost all of Alberta’s remaining COVID-19 restrictions at a morning news conference.

Kenney and Copping will speak at Hash Breakfast Eatery in Red Deer at 10 a.m. MT. Watch the news conference here. 

Nearly all pandemic public health measures were lifted in the province as of today, as the Alberta government launched Step 2 of its reopening plan. 

On Saturday, Kenney announced that the phased approach to further lift restrictions — and adopt an endemic approach to COVID-19 —  would go ahead as planned.

Step 2 took effect at 12 a.m. today, ending a series of measures brought in to temper the spread of an Omicron-driven fifth wave.

Remaining school requirements, including cohorting, have lifted, along with youth screening for entertainment and sports. 

Capacity limits on all large venues and entertainment venues, limits on indoor and outdoor gatherings and a mandatory work-from-home mandate have all been removed.

The provincial mask mandate has also been removed. However, masking will still be required in some high-risk settings, including at Alberta Health Services facilities and continuing care sites and on public transit.

Edmonton’s masking rules also remain intact. City council will convene a special meeting on March 8 to discuss the mask bylaw.

One of the few restrictions that remains in place is an isolation requirement for COVID-19 cases.

Kenney has said the province is working toward a third stage of its reopening plan where people would no longer be required to isolate if they have COVID-19. That step would also see the lifting of COVID operational and outbreak protocols in continuing care facilities. 

There is no set date for Step 3 but Kenney has said each stage is contingent on hospitalization trends.

Provincial data shows non-ICU hospitalizations have been generally declining for over two weeks, while the number of ICU admissions has dropped.

As of Monday, there were 1,224 people in hospital with COVID-19, including 83 in intensive care. 

Provincially, ICU capacity, including additional surge beds, was at 81 per cent. 

Without the additional surge spaces, provincial ICU capacity would be at 109 per cent.

Alberta reported 14 new COVID-related deaths and 1,435 new cases on Monday, as the province released three days of data from the weekend.

There have now been 3,912 deaths in Alberta since the start of the pandemic.

As of Monday’s update, the number of active cases dropped below 10,000 for the first time since Dec. 23. 

There are now 9,188 known active cases in the province, though that number only includes lab-confirmed cases confirmed through PCR testing. The availability of PCR testing is restricted.

The seven-day average for the positivity rate is now hovering around 22 per cent.

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