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Tuesday , 2 March 2021

Premier Kenney confident COVID-19 progress means province can accelerate re-opening

Premier Jason Kenney said the province may accelerate their plan in relaunching from the COVID-19 pandemic, which would allow for organized youth sports this summer.

While appearing on Lakeland Connect on Tuesday, Kenney was asked about Edmonton being a potential hub city for the National Hockey League’s return to play, and how that affects all organized sports in Alberta.

“I’m pleased to tell you that Dr. Hinshaw, our chief medical officer, I expect her to be giving us a recommendation at the meeting of [Tuesday’s] tonight’s emergency cabinet committee to move forward with reopening team sports for the summer season with certain public health guidelines, in terms of making sure that we limit the spread,” said Kenney.

“I’m confident based on the numbers, that we’ll be able to proceed, actually probably moving some of the Phase Three activities up into Phase Two and possibly actually accelerating Phase Two, as well. As long as Albertans continue to act responsibly, we can go faster in the relaunch.”

The province set the timeline for the next phase of relaunching to as early as June 19, but with hospitalization and ICU admissions remaining steady or declining and active cases continuing to drop, the plan could be accelerated.

“It’s not for certain, I’ve always got to lay out this condition. If the numbers suddenly spike in the wrong direction, and we end up with hundreds of people in hospital, we’re going to have to obviously, keep some stronger health measures in place,” said Kenney.

“But right now, there’s no indication of that happening and historically diseases like this go down in the summer and so I’m confident we’ll be able to move forward faster than we had initially planned.”

Phase Two of re-opening would allow libraries to open with restrictions, more surgeries, personal services like tanning and waxing, larger outdoor gatherings, movie theatres, lessen restrictions for restaurants and bars, and the potential re-opening of K-12 schools.

Phase Three of re-opening is when nightclubs, gyms, pools, festivals, conferences, would be allowed to resume and non-essential travel is permitted.

Alberta’s relaunch began on May 14 in most areas of the province.

Currently, there are 51 hospitalizations with six of those in intensive care due to COVID-19.

Three-quarters of all active infections are in the Calgary area, which has 288 of the province’s 377 active cases.

About Michael Menzies

Menzies is the editor-at-large for Connected Media Inc. Born and raised in Vermilion, he started in May 2018 during his NAIT Radio and Television practicum and reports on local politics, sports, and community issues. He became the Bonnyville Pontiacs play-by-play voice during the 2019-20 season. He also comments on provincial and national issues. Menzies hosts Connected! Evening Monday-Thursday at 5 o’clock. He also likes to buy books and read some of them.