We are here. After 14 grueling months, Alberta’s government has announced the Open for Summer plan — a three-stage plan that lays the path to lifting all pandemic restrictions by summer. Based on our plan, Albertans will get back to their normal lives faster than anyone else in Canada.
First and foremost, I want to thank you — the residents of Sherwood Park — for all you have done to protect yourselves and each other from this pandemic. You aren’t just helping us slow down the third wave of the virus. You’re helping us crush it. Cases are down sharply from peaks in May. Hospitalization and ICU numbers are stabilizing. And the R-value, which tracks how fast the virus is spreading, has fallen from 1.13 when we announced the last series of restrictions to 0.67 now.
Our people are delivering in classic Alberta fashion: rolling up their sleeves and getting the shot in record numbers. So far, over 2.6 million Albertans have received their vaccine. That number climbs higher each and every day.
There is no question that vaccines work and that they are the ticket back to normal. As of today, more than 66.7 per cent of all Albertans over the age of 12 have had their first dose. With this in mind, here’s a look at the three stages we have to go through to get to the best summer ever.
By the time you read this, Stage 1 will likely be in effect. Stage one occurs two weeks after 50 per cent of Albertans age 12 and over have had at least one dose of vaccine and hospitalizations drop below 800. As part of Stage 1, capacity restrictions will loosen for things like worship services, retail and outdoor patio dining. Distancing and masking requirements will remain in effect.
Stage 2 occurs two weeks after 60 per cent of Albertans age 12 and over have had at least one dose of vaccine and hospitalizations drop below 500. We are anticipating this will happen around mid-June. At this point, capacity limits will go up again for worship services, retail and outdoor patio dining. We will also see a return to indoor dining, and increases for outdoor social gatherings, weddings and funerals. We will see gyms open their doors, as well as movie theatres, casinos, museums, art galleries and libraries.
Stage 3 occurs when we reach the 70 per cent vaccination threshold. We are anticipating this will happen around early July. This is the day we are all looking forward to. On this day, all public health restrictions will be lifted.
I am ready for the best summer ever and I hope you are too. I urge you to read more about our Open for Summer plan at alberta.ca/opensummer. If all goes according to plan, this won’t just be a reopening, but a grand reopening for our province.
In local news, as part of stage one of Alberta’s Open for Summer plan, patios in the Park have opened for business.This is a welcome announcement for those restaurants who have been struggling with money and retaining employees over the past 14 months.I would encourage all residents of Sherwood Park to enjoy some patio dining this weekend, if weather permits, to support our local restaurant scene.
On June 3, Strathcona County virtually hosted the 2021 Awards of Excellence ceremony, after having to cancel last year. This ceremony recognizes residents of Strathcona County for outstanding service and commitment to the community. This year some of the winners included Billie Borys and Eileen Bona for the Agricultural Leadership Award, Barb Henderson and Gayle McCarthy for the Community Service Award, and the Linking Generations Society of Alberta for the Service to Seniors Award. There were many more fine individuals and groups who received awards as well and I would like to congratulate all recipients and thank them for their hard work and dedication.
As always it remains a privilege to serve as the MLA for Sherwood Park.
Jordan Walker is the Member of the Legislature Assembly for the Sherwood Park constituency. If you have any questions or comments about this column or any other provincial issues, he would like to hear from you. Please contact Walker’s constituency officer at 780-417-4747 or by email email@example.com.