Could the Third Time be the Charm?
Wear a mask. Wash your hands. Stay at home when you can. You might think that is pretty simple stuff, but as we’ve learned thrice now, managing this pandemic as individuals is apparently tougher than it looks.
Last Thursday, Premier Jason Kenney strode to a microphone to send Albertans into Easter weekend with a plea to Albertans to stay vigilant. While putting the blame for lack of available vaccine doses squarely on the federal government, Kenney was asked if there would be new or increased restrictions to prevent the spread of the virus and its variants. He noted the province has restrictions in place that an increasing number of Albertans are not following. “If they’re not complying with the current restrictions, I think they’re not likely to comply with additional restrictions,” said Kenney. Kenney urged Albertans not to gather over the Easter weekend, in homes or churches.
Kenney’s focus has long been on jobs and the economy, both of which are in dire straits, while realistically knowing our healthcare system can’t handle the virus running wild. Without compliance to the current restrictions from Albertans, the tide on this third wave has now come in and we are treading water. Just under 7,000 positive cases have been reported in the last seven days. Variant cases have surged to over half of diagnosed cases.
As the numbers from the weekend came in, Albertans became aware that pleas weren’t going to be enough to stop the skyrocketing positive COVID cases.
Kenney’s Reaction to the Weekend
Despite the commentary on compliance, pleas with Albertans are no longer cutting it when it comes to keeping the numbers down. While most of us sit in relative lockdown, pockets of Albertans clearly need more restrictions to slow the spread as variant cases are set to outpace all other versions of the virus.
Premier Kenney came out today with a balance of compassion and discipline in his message and left no room for exceptions or maybes. Some might say this was the tone that needed to be struck earlier and far more often. Kenney outlined the rate of spread, using a single P1 variant case to highlight the 35 subsequent cases and one death that a single case caused. Kenney highlighted data that showed Albertans on the road to an average of 2,000 cases per day by the end of this month if the current compliance continues. Kenney claims the only responsible choice is to take immediate action.
Kenney says he is open to debate informed by fact but notes that as Premier, he can’t in good conscience continue to put Albertans in jeopardy. The Premier returned Alberta to response Step One, stressing that it will take all Albertans digging in to flatten the curve “one last time”. To take advantage of the return to Step One, the province also announced enhanced vaccination initiatives to speed up the rate at which Albertans can get their shots.
The following mandatory Step One public health measures come into effect at 11:59 p.m. on April 6:
- Retail services must reduce customer capacity to 15 per cent of fire code occupancy, with a minimum of five customers permitted.
- Only one-on-one training with an individual or household is permitted for indoor fitness activities
- Outdoor physical activity is allowed with up to 10 people, provided physical distancing is maintained between households.
Adult performance activities
- Adult performance activities are not permitted (singing, dancing, etc).
The following mandatory public health measures come into effect at noon on Friday, April 9:
Restaurants, pubs, bars, lounges, and cafés
- Indoor in-person service is no longer permitted.
- Outdoor patio dining is allowed with restrictions.
Kenney announced a committee of Government MLAs, led by Health Minister Tyler Shandro, will be assembled to get Albertans back on the path to normal. He said recommendations will be made by the end of this month.
Jason Kenney did today exactly what he needed to do. It could be argued that this was the decisive Premier Albertans were looking for in the first and second wave. The Premier came forward with a plan, and we must follow it to get through to the end of the pandemic.
The Premier left Albertans with a sense of compassion, urging all of us to “just finish strong.”
Authored by: Darren Cunningham, Tim Moro, Natalie Sigalet and Jessica Conlin from H+K’s offices in Calgary and Edmonton, Alberta.