The province of Alberta is easing some health restrictions on libraries and low-intensity fitness, effectively immediately, said Premier Jason Kenney on Monday afternoon.
Kenney said the province can safely move into Step 2 in Alberta’s “A Step Foward” plan to re-opening after declines in hospitalization totals, but not everything within Step 2 is going ahead.
The soonest some restrictions could be eased was March 1 provided there were fewer than 450 hospitalizations. As of Monday, there are 257 COVID-19 patients in hospital with 48 out of those in intensive care.
Kenney expressed concern with the rise in daily COVID variant cases and said “we are not out of the woods yet.”
“We are watching the spread of this virus closely,” said Kenney during the press conference.
Libraries will be allowed to open to 15 per cent capacity, not including staff, despite being originally listed under Step 3 of re-opening.
Some low-intensity indoor fitness activities will be allowed, including tai chi and pilates, with three-metres physical distancing and mask-wearing required.
However, activities like spin classes are still not allowed, unless it is a 1-on-1 appointment with a personal trainer.
Indoor fitness (no change to outdoor fitness):
- Unsupervised low intensity individual and group exercises are now allowed by appointment only.
- Mandatory physical distance of three metres is required between participants, including coaches and trainers, at all times, and masks must be worn at all times by trainers and those participating in low-intensity activities.
- All indoor fitness must be pre-registered – no drop-ins allowed.
- Low-intensity exercises include weightlifting, low-intensity dance classes, yoga, barre and indoor climbing, as well as the low-intensity use of treadmills, ellipticals and related equipment.
- High-intensity activities, including running, spin and high-intensity interval training, continue to be allowed only on a one-on-one with a trainer basis, or training with a household and one trainer.
Other restrictions listed for retail outlets, hotels, banquet and conference centres under Step 2 of re-opening will not go ahead. Health Minister Tyler Shandro said these measures haven’t been moved to Step 3, but will be monitored in the coming days and weeks.
The province will continue to monitor hospitalizations, case growth rate, and other key indicators to determine whether the province can continue easing more restrictions in Step 3.
The earliest Step 3 could happen is three weeks from today and hospitalization levels fewer than 300
Chief medical officer Dr. Deena Hinshaw confirmed 291 new cases on Monday after just under 6,000 tests.
The provincial positivity rate is 4.9 per cent.