Province announces more rapid COVID-19 tests for businesses

COVID-19: Restrictions could be eased in Alberta on Monday

Alberta won't be easing any restrictions soon, and that's seeing a lot of mixed reaction from people, businesses, and organizations across the province. This increases the total number of variant COVID-19 cases found in the province to 1,711.

In late January, Kenney announced there would be four steps in reopening the economy, tied mainly to hospitalizations, and has gone ahead with the first two phases.

"Jason Kenney must put the safety of Albertans first and focus on containing the spread of these risky new variants", said Alberta NDP leader Rachel Notley.

"This expansion of our rapid testing program supports our overall COVID-19 strategy, to shield those most at risk, to protect lives and livelihoods, and adapt our actions to new evidence as it comes", said Health Minister Tyler Shandro in a release.

But Alberta has nearly 6,000 active infections - the highest per-capita case rate in Canada.

Mr. Shandro said even as the province moves further into its reopening plan, the government would be monitoring COVID-19 data and could impose targeted restrictions if needed, for example if a particular activity is identified as driving infections.

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"The reality is that, given recent case numbers, and [that] the number of people in hospital due to COVID is likely to go back over the 300 threshold in the next week, it would be irresponsible and unfair to Albertans to ease measures now only to reinstate them a few days later".

Mr. Shandro acknowledged that anger.

Dr. Hinshaw will provide another update on Wednesday afternoon.

"What we've seen in other countries, that because the variant is more transmissible, it eventually does become the dominant strain where there is spread in the community", Dr. Hinshaw said.

Public-health experts had been urging the government to delay reopening plans and some have said the province should lock down to prevent a third wave.

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