Province to decide Friday whether Calgary, Brooks will move to next phase of Stage 1 relaunch

Premier Jason Kenney said that the government will announce this Friday whether the Calgary and Brooks regions will be going forward with the next phase of their relaunch process.

“The emergency management cabinet committee will be meeting with Dr. Hinshaw this coming Friday morning to make a final decision about the next stages in relaunch for Calgary and Brooks,” Kenney said at a press conference Tuesday.

“I commit that we will make that decision public, immediately following that meeting.”

The majority of the province moved forward with Stage 1 of the relaunch plan last Thursday, but Calgary and Brooks were both put into a slower approach due to the high COVID-19 case numbers in those regions.

The next phase of the Stage 1 reopening for those two regions is initially set for May 25, with the final portion of Stage 1 currently slated to be launched on June 1.

Currently, retail locations and other services like daycares and museums have opened in Calgary and Brooks, but restaurants, places of worship, and hair stylist and barbers remain closed.

Kenney said that health officials want to monitor how cases in those areas react to first openings before moving forward with the next steps.

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“What our public health people want to see is whether the first stage in the relaxation of public health measures in Calgary and Brooks has led to a significant increase in community spread or not.”

He added the Calgary and Brooks regions currently account for 85 per cent of the total active cases in the province.

Kenney added that he isn’t expecting the timelines to change.

“I fully expect a green light from the chief medical officer to proceed with the timeline we outlined last Wednesday,” he said.

The premier also added that while he understands the frustrations from Albertans on the closures and limited relaunch, he believes the province has taken a measured approach to its COVID-19 restrictions.

“I see a lot of folks on Facebook and elsewhere saying, ‘We’ve got to stop shutting down the economy,’” Kenney said.

“The public health orders that Alberta put in place over the past two months suspended the operation of about 15 per cent of businesses — so 85 per cent of Alberta businesses continued to operate.

“We’ve taken a much lighter touch to the public health measures than the vast majority of jurisdictions around the world, with very good results,” he said.

Kenney said he expects Friday’s announcement to take place around noon.

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