COVID-19 Update: Alberta’s Gradual Re-Opening of the Economy

| 15 minutes

On April 30, 2020, Premier Jason Kenney announced Alberta’s strategy to relaunch the economy. This phased relaunch “will put Albertans’ safety first.” Along with many other provinces, Alberta plans to gradually reopen closed businesses and services through a staged process over several weeks and months. This phased process will give room for improvement in economic activities while allowing the Government to rapidly and efficiently respond to any change in the situation.

Early Actions

This initial phase of reopening the economy is subject to the ongoing advice of the Chief Medical Officer of Health.

Starting Monday, May 4, 2020, Alberta Health Services will resume scheduled, non-urgent surgeries. Other health care workers will be allowed to reopen their businesses and services, including dental workers, physiotherapists, social workers, occupational therapists, speech language pathologists, audiologists and dietitians. All health care businesses and services must follow the approved guidelines set by their professional colleges in order to open.

In addition, access to outdoor recreational facilities will be reopened. The Government has outlined a phased approach for these facilities as follows:

  • May 1, 2020: vehicle access to parking lots and staging areas in parks and on public lands will be opened;
  • May 1, 2020: some boat launches in provincial parks will be opened;
  • May 2, 2020: golf courses will be opened with restrictions, including keeping clubhouses and shops closed;
  • May 14, 2020: the Alberta Parks’ online reservation system will be available to book site visits for the period beginning June 1, 2020; and
  • Private and municipal campgrounds and parks can open with physical distancing restrictions under their own local authority.

Stage One

The first stage of the reopening process will commence once health measures are achieved to the satisfaction of the government based on the advice of the Chief Medical Officer of Health.  

From May 14, 2020 onwards, the Government will consider allowing the following businesses to reopen:

  • Retail businesses and farmers’ markets;
  • Some personal services like hair styling and barber shops;
  • Museums and art galleries;
  • Daycares and out-of-school care, with limits on occupancy;
  • Summer camps and summer schools, with limits on occupancy;
  • Cafes and restaurants with no bar service, with public seating at 50 per cent capacity; and
  • Some additional outdoor recreational facilities.

The following restrictions and recommendations on business and activity will remain in place during the first stage:

  • Gatherings of more than 15 people will remain prohibited;
  • Gatherings of fewer than 15 people must continue to follow personal distancing guidelines;
  • Gyms, pools, spas, night clubs, recreation centres and arenas will remain closed;
  • Festivals, concerts, attendance at sporting events and other mass gatherings will remain prohibited;
  • Visitors to patients at health care facilities will continue to be limited;
  • The Government will continue to recommend against all non-essential travel; and
  • Remote working is recommended where possible.

Stage Two

If the first stage of the reopening is successful, the Government will proceed to the second stage. The success of the first stage and the timing of the second stage will be based on the capacity of the health care system and whether infection rates, hospitalizations and ICU cases continue to be limited or reduced.

In the second stage, the Government will allow more businesses and services to reopen and will lift other restrictions on activity. All businesses and services reopened under the second stage will be subject to two-meter physical distancing requirements and other public health guidelines. At this time, the Government foresees that during the second stage:

  • Schools from Kindergarten to Grade 12 may possibly open;
  • Alberta Health Services will continue to schedule non-urgent surgeries, including backlogged surgeries;
  • Personal service businesses will open, including estheticians, massage and reflexology therapists, nail salons, waxing salons and other cosmetic skin and body treatment services;
  • Theatres and movie theatres will open;
  • Restaurants, cafes, and lounges will continue to operate at 50% capacity; and
  • Some larger gatherings will be permitted (the size of permissible gatherings will be determined at a later date).

The following restrictions on business and activity will remain in place during the second stage:

  • Gyms, pools, recreation centres and arenas will remain closed;
  • Festivals, concerts, attendance at sporting events and other mass gatherings will remain prohibited;
  • Visitors to patients at health care facilities will continue to be limited;
  • Mandatory self-isolation and quarantine for confirmed cases of COVID-19, close contacts, returning travelers and those with symptoms will remain in place; and
  • The Government will continue to recommend against all non-essential travel.

Stage Three

Finally, if both the first and second stages of the reopening are successful, the Government will proceed to the third stage.

During the third stage, Alberta plans to fully reopen all businesses and services and to permit larger gatherings. For example, the Government of Alberta intends that:

  • All businesses and services will open, subject to some restrictions;
  • Larger gatherings will be permitted (the size of permissible gatherings will be determined at a later date);
  • Festivals, concerts and attendance at sporting events will be allowed, with some restrictions and enhanced protection controls in place;
  • Nightclubs and recreational facilities such as gyms, pools, recreation centres and arenas will open, with some restrictions and enhanced protection controls in place;
  • Industry conferences will resume, with some restrictions;
  • Limits on visitors at health care facilities will be lifted;
  • Mandatory self-isolation and quarantine requirements will be lifted; and
  • Recommendations against non-essential travel will be lifted.

The Government of Alberta has stated that relaunch stages will also include an evaluation and monitoring period to determine if restrictions should be adjusted up or down. The Government’s decisions to reopen will be applied at both provincial and local levels, where necessary. While restrictions are gradually eased across the province, an outbreak may mean that restrictions need to be strengthened temporarily in a local area.

Our team will continue to monitor these developments and provide updates as information becomes available. Please watch our COVID-19 hub and please reach out to any member of our Team as needed.

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