Alberta Announces 3-Stage Reopening Plan Linked to Vaccinations, Hospitalizations
The Alberta government has unveiled its three-stage “open for summer” plan, a strategy tied directly to vaccination and hospitalization numbers that could see all public-health restrictions lifted by July. The province entered Stage 1 on June 1 and is expected to be fully open by the beginning of July or earlier.
“We are optimistic that we’ll enter Stage 3 by early July,” Kenney said. “And what a great day that will be. Events like K-Days and Calgary Stampede can proceed at that point with full participation.”
Stage 1 requires that 50% of Albertans aged 12 and older have received at least one dose of vaccine, and that COVID-19 hospitalizations be below 800 and declining. Both those thresholds have already been met, Kenney said.
That means that as of May 28, places of worship were allowed to open with 15% capacity limit. Starting June 1, the rest of Stage 1 would kick in, which includes:
- Outdoor gatherings of up to 10 people.
- Personal and wellness services allowed to reopen.
- Restaurant patios allowed to reopen.
- Outdoor sports and recreation for up to 10 people.
- Retail stores allowed to have up to 15% of fire code occupancy.
Stage 2 would begin two weeks after 60% of eligible Albertans have received at least one dose of vaccine and COVID-19 hospitalizations are below 500 and declining.
In Stage 2, libraries and movie theatres could reopen, places of worship and retail stores could have one-third occupancy, restaurants could seat groups of up to six indoors and outdoors, gyms could reopen and outdoor gatherings could include up to 20 people.
Stage 3 would begin two weeks after 70% of eligible Albertans have had at least one dose of vaccine. That stage will not be tied to hospitalization numbers.
Asked if the province was now moving too quickly, Kenney said his government was taking a “cautious approach” and following the science and examples in other countries. Kenney said one key metric the province is using — the percentage of people with their first doses of vaccine — is backed by deeper analysis about what constitutes “population protection,” including the 9.2% of people who have been fully vaccinated, and the 14% who have natural immunity because they have recovered from the illness.
Health Minister Tyler Shandro said the reopening stages will be implemented in all parts of the province at the same time. “The scale of Stage 2 reopening might seem daunting, but we must not forget that, in comparison to last year, we have vaccines and the protection that they give us on our side. And on top of that, we will be monitoring hospitalization levels throughout and will not move to the next stage if those numbers give us any reason to have continued caution.”
BC Revealed Its Official Reopening Plan
Premier John Horgan announced that the official four-step B.C. reopening plan would be kicking off and he revealed what each of the steps will entail. Moving through each of the steps will be dictated by the number of adults who are vaccinated, COVID-19 case counts in the province, and hospitalization and death numbers. There are approximate timelines for each of the steps, though they are subject to change based on the aforementioned metrics.
Step 1: May 25
As of now, Step 1 is underway as a result of 60% of B.C. adults having received their first vaccine dose and COVID-19 case counts and hospitalization numbers remaining stable.
This means that British Columbians can now host gatherings of up to five visitors or one household inside their homes. For outdoor personal gatherings, up to 10 people are allowed. Seated indoor gatherings can be up to 10 people with safety protocols. Meanwhile, seated outdoor gatherings can have up to 50 people with safety protocols.
As for travel restrictions, they have been extended for the time being. This means that people in B.C. can only travel within their own health regions unless for essential reasons. Indoor and outdoor dining will resume for up to six people per table with safety protocols. Outdoor sports (with no spectators) and low-intensity fitness may also resume.
There will be a gradual return to the workplace and the province wide mask mandate, business safety regulations and physical distancing will be sticking around. Finally, indoor faith-based gatherings can return with reduced capacity.
Step 2: June 15 At The Earliest
When 65% of the adult population in B.C. has received their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations are declining, the province can move into Step 2.
In Step 2 up to 50 people will be allowed to gather outdoors, up to 50 people can gather for seated indoor organized gatherings, and there will be a consultation beginning to prepare for large indoor and outdoor gatherings.
There will be no more travel restrictions within B.C. In addition, indoor sports and high-intensity fitness will be able to resume with safety protocols. Spectators will also be invited back for outdoor sports, with a 50 person maximum. The mask mandate, business safety protocols and physical distancing measures will still remain in place.
Step 3: July 1 At the Earliest
Step 3 can begin when 70% of adults have their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, cases are low, and hospitalizations are still declining.
During this step, the provincial state of emergency will be lifted and locals can return to normal for indoor and outdoor personal gatherings. There will also be an increased capacity for organized gatherings, both indoor and outdoor.
Nightclubs and casinos will be allowed to open with capacity limits, and new public health and workplace guidance will be issued around mask-wearing, distancing, and business protocols.
Step 4: September 7 At the Earliest
Now, in the final step, over 70% of adults will have to have their first dose, cases must be low and stable and hospitalizations must be low.
Reaching Step 4 would mean returning to normal social contact, increasing capacity for large organized gatherings, no limits for sports spectators and new safety plans for businesses.
This step would basically be the loosening of all regulations. Naturally, there are a number of caveats to reach each step and these dates are the earliest possible dates to move into each step.
New Brunswick Releases Plan to Reopen Province
New Brunswick has unveiled its “path to green”, plan to loosen public health restrictions. Health Minister Dorothy Shephard said all restrictions could be lifted by Aug. 2, New Brunswick Day, if 75% of the eligible population aged 12 and over have been fully vaccinated by then and COVID-related hospitalizations remain manageable.
The first phase will begin June 7 if at least 75% of the eligible population has received their first dose of a COVID vaccine and all zones are at the yellow COVID alert level. If those conditions are met, a number of changes will come into effect, including:
- No mandatory isolation or testing for those travelling within Atlantic Canada and the border Quebec regions of Avignon and Témiscouata, with the exception of Nova Scotia. Travel registration will still be required.
- Compassionate travel, such as travel related to end of life, funerals, and providing or receiving care, including child care not otherwise available, will be permitted for individuals from outside Newfoundland and Labrador, Prince Edward Island, Avignon, and Témiscouata, but they will be required to isolate and take a COVID-19 test between days five and seven, with negative results, before they can discontinue isolation.
- Cross-border commuters and truckers will no longer be subject to testing and isolation requirements.
- Other workers, including rotational workers, travelling from outside Newfoundland and Labrador, Prince Edward Island, Avignon and Témiscouata, and those moving to New Brunswick and New Brunswickers who travel outside of the area, with isolation and negative testing between days five and seven, unless that person is under an existing work isolation plan. Households will be required to isolate unless the individual isolates separately.
- The steady 15 will be eliminated – New Brunswickers will be allowed contact with all family and friends in yellow alert levels.
- Indoor informal gatherings will be limited to 20 people.
- Indoor formal gatherings can be up to 50% capacity with an operational plan.
- Outdoor gatherings are permitted with two metres of distancing.
- Organized sporting activities will be permitted, with games and competitions restricted to players and teams based in Atlantic Canada, Avignon and Témiscouata.
- Faith gatherings will also be permitted with an operational plan of up to 50% venue capacity and the choir four metres away from the congregation.
This will begin July 1 if at least 20% of New Brunswickers aged 65 or over have received their second dose. Changes include:
- Registration for travel within Atlantic Canada, Avignon and Témiscouata will no longer be required, and Nova Scotia will be included in the bubble.
- Travellers from across Canada with at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine will be allowed into the province with no isolation required. The same will apply to travellers from Maine, pending changes to the federal regulations.
- Those who have not been vaccinated will also be permitted to enter the province, but will be required to isolate and undergo COVID testing between days five to seven. They will be released from isolation with a negative test.
- International travellers with two doses will not be required to isolate, pending changes to federal regulations, while those with one dose or no vaccination will be subject to 14-day isolation, with a test on day 10.
- The province’s designated isolation hotels program will no longer be required.
- Businesses, such as restaurants, gyms and salons, will be allowed to operate at full capacity if they maintain a contact list of patrons. Masks will still be required when it’s not possible to maintain a distance of two metres, if patrons are not eating or drinking.
Additional health and safety guidelines for early learning and child-care facilities will also be “relaxed” with a full return to normal operations anticipated by Aug. 1, said Shephard. By Aug. 2, the province expects to remove the state of emergency mandatory order, which has been in place since March 2020 and gives the government additional powers.
Dr. Jennifer Russell, the province’s chief medical officer of health, said releasing the plan does not put the province at the finish line of its “pandemic journey.” COVID-19 will continue even after the green phase. Premier Blaine Higgs also said that If the province does not reach its vaccination goals, or sees a rise in cases and hospitalizations, it will delay the target dates.
Click here to visit the New Brunswick website and see a full list rules in the three phase plan.
Ontario Unveils Three-Step Reopening Plan
Ontario has announced a three-step plan to reopen the province, starting with outdoor recreational amenities, as it gradually prepares to ease pandemic restrictions.
As of May 22, outdoor recreational amenities – like golf courses and tennis courts – were allowed to reopen, the government said. Outdoor limits for social gatherings and organized public events were expanded, which allowed these amenities to be used by up to five people.
These amenities include driving ranges, soccer and other sports fields, tennis and basketball courts, and skate parks. No outdoor sports or recreational classes are yet permitted.
“We’re seeing increasingly positive trends and key public health indicators,” Premier Doug Ford said. “As a result, we’re now in a position to look at a slow and measured reopening of the province, and working in lockstep with our public health officials.”
The government said step one of the three-tier plan will likely begin on the week of June 14. The province must spend 21 days in each step before moving to the next.
This step is expected to begin on June 14 or two weeks after 60% of adults in Ontario have at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. In this stage, outdoor activities and gatherings will be first to open but with some restrictions and limits.
Here’s a full list of what will be allowed:
- Outdoor gatherings for up to 10 people
- Outdoor dining for up to 4 people per table
- Non-essential retail at 15%
- Outdoor religious services, rites and ceremonies with capacity limited to permit two metres of physical distancing
- Outdoor sports, training and personal training for up to 10 people
- Day camps
- Campsites and campgrounds
- Ontario parks
- Outdoor horse racing and motor speedways
- Outdoor pools, splash pads and wading pools
This second step could begin in July or once 70% of the population in Ontario has received their first dose and 20% has received two doses.
Here’s a full list of what will be allowed:
- Larger outdoor gatherings for up to 25 people
- Small indoor gatherings for up to five people
- Outdoor dining for up to six people per table
- Essential retail at 50% capacity
- Non-essential retail capacity at 25%
- Personal care services where face coverings can be worn at all times
- Outdoor meeting and event spaces
- Outdoor amusement and water parks
- Outdoor boat tour operators
- Outdoor county fairs and rural exhibitions
- Outdoor sports leagues and events
- Outdoor cinemas, performing arts, live music, events and attractions
The final step would see life return mostly back to normal and could begin in August or when 70% to 80% of adults in Ontario have received at least one dose of the vaccine, and 25% have received both doses. In this stage, the province would see rules around indoor gatherings finally unravel.
Here’s a full list of what will be allowed:
- Larger indoor and outdoor gatherings (the province did not specify a limit)
- Essential and non-essential retail, but with limited capacity
- Larger indoor religious services, rites, and ceremony gatherings
- Indoor meeting and event spaces
- Indoor sports and recreational facilities
- Indoor seated events
- Indoor attractions and cultural amenities
- Casino and bingo halls
- Other outdoor activities from Step 3 will be permitted to operate indoors
Quebec Lifts Curfew, Allows Outdoor Dining as of May 28 in First Steps of Reopening Plan
Quebec’s premier, François Legault, has gradually started a return to normalcy with the curfew lifting across the province as of May 28 and masks no longer mandatory in most situations by the end of August.
Also allowed as of May 28:
- Eating on patios and decks outside of restaurants.
- Outdoor gatherings of up to eight people on private property.
- Travel between regions of Quebec.
- Up to 2,500 people in a large theatre or arena.
On May 31, the vast majority of the province moved to an “orange zone,” which means indoor dining at restaurants is allowed and gyms can reopen. All kids can attend school full time as well. As it stands in Quebec, third-year high school students and above had been alternating between days online learning and in-person classes.
More Restrictions to Change
On June 11, bars will be able to open terraces for outdoor drinking. Outdoor sports and recreation activities will also be allowed, with a cap of 25%.
By June 14, Legault said most regions will be at the yellow level, which means people from two different households can gather indoors and bars can reopen.
On June 25, fully vaccinated people will be able to assemble indoors without masks or social distancing. Outdoor festivals will also be allowed and summer camps can open.
On June 28, most regions will switch to green zones. Indoor gatherings will be permitted up to a maximum of 10 people from three residences, and all indoor team sports will be permitted.
By the end of August, most mask requirements will be lifted, except for perhaps public transit and a few other exceptions. However, the lifting of mask restrictions still hinges on vaccination rates, Legault said. He wants 75% of people 12 and up to have a second dose before the masks come off indoors.
Reopening depends on vaccination rates
Legault stressed that this success relies on everybody doing their part by getting vaccinated. He said the plan is to gradually scale back measures every two weeks, but health officials will be keeping a close eye on the situation. Any sudden uptick in cases could delay the process.
Quebec set a goal of administering the first vaccine dose to 75% of adults by June 24, but now officials expect to reach that goal by June 15, Legault said. Health Minister Christian Dubé said it may be possible to speed up the rate of delivering the second dose, ensuring people can gather indoors without masks even sooner.