In less than 24 hours, Alberta will be open for business. Well, mostly. In the face of public pressure, Premier Jason Kenney made a split-the-difference decision. Calgary and Brooks are opening at a different rate than the rest of Alberta. When it comes to long-term success, the devil will lie in the details, but the details will require some personal responsibility. The provincial plan puts a lot of trust in Albertans not getting in their vehicles and taking up residence in other jurisdictions. Here’s where things might get interesting.
Calgary’s Mayor Naheed Nenshi spilled the beans early, letting Calgarians know the reopening would be regional in nature. While many pundits will speculate until the cows came home, simple math points to why. The majority of the province’s confirmed COVID-19 cases have been found in the Calgary and South Zones. 60 per cent in the Calgary and up to 70 per cent including Brooks (a particular hot spot in the South Zone) specifically. Even with the declining number of positive cases provincially, the curve has yet to flatten or flatten fast enough in these two areas.
Following the lead of those to the east, the province rolled out the Opening Soon on April 30th, 2020 with a phased approach. Many Albertans, the official opposition, spoke sharply about the province opening too soon. With little guidance in place early, businesses were left to *gasp* fend for themselves and potentially face the prospect of being responsible for themselves.
Retail businesses such as clothing, furniture and bookstores; Some personal services, hairstyling and barber shops; Museums and art galleries; Physiotherapy, chiropractic, optometry and similar services; Daycares with occupancy limits;
Summer camps/summer school with occupancy limits; Dine-in restaurants, cafés, lounges and bars at 50 per cent capacity; and Some additional outdoor recreation.
Calgary and Brooks have been excluded from a section of the reopening given the elevated cases in the areas. The projections, if numbers and trends continue in the right direction, are to have Calgary and Brooks join the rest of the province beginning on May 25, 2020.
- • May 25: Personal services, like hairstyling and barbers’ shops and restaurants can open;
- • June 1: Places of worship and funeral services and day camps and summer school can open.
Kenney continued to emphasize the advice from health experts in informing the reopening plan, as well as the importance of contact tracing, tracking of hospital bed vacancies, ICU capacity, and the weight of the virus on the system was – and is – central to moving forward.
Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Deena Hinshaw spoke clearly about the false sense of security around wearing masks, and recommended all Albertans continue the ongoing health measures. Kenney and Hinshaw were both notably firm on the discipline and sacrifices it has taken to get Albertans to this point; both asked Albertans to continue the critical measures needed to avoid the backslide and not allowing a second wave of the virus as restrictions are lifted.
We have heard the rationale from provincial leaders on the system’s ability to manage the virus, particularly with the current low level of hospitalization and ICU capacity. While there is little doubt that opening the province up for business opens the province up to the risks of the virus, a little personal responsibility, some faith in our healthcare capacity, and washing your hands will go a long way.