Weekly COVID – Relaunch; cases dip and rise

Pearl Lorentzen
Lakeside Leader

Stage II of the Alberta Relaunch Strategy started Friday, June 12. This includes bigger groups, more campsites, and provisions for team sports. Also, libraries, gyms, arenas, movie theatres, bingo halls, and other businesses can reopen.

Like Stage I, the exact timing of reopening will depend on the business or organization. The start of Stage III depends on factors such as the number of active cases in the province. Regional restrictions could be imposed in regions with many active cases.

Over the week of June 8 to 15, there were only a few active cases in the Alberta Health Services North Zone, however on Sunday, June 14, the number increased. Slave Lake remained at five cases – all recovered.

On June 8, there were 17 active North Zone cases in five regions. By June 12, there were 10 active cases in four regions. On Sunday, there were 22 in six.

  • Clear Hills County – 10 active cases (up from one). This region was being watched for possible regional restrictions.
  • City of Grande Prairie – three active (down from nine)
  • Fort McMurray – six active (up from three)
  • MacKenzie County – one active
  • Peace County – one active
  • Wood Buffalo – one active

Slave Lake reopening
Businesses in Slave Lake area are responding in different ways to Stage II.
In Slave Lake, Champion Health & Fitness reopened, June 12.

“We revamped our gym with online booking,” says owner Abdul Mouallem.
He adds the first day a lot of time was spent explaining the new rules to members.

Slave Lake Crossfit plans to open Tuesday, June 16, said owner Robbie Coté, on June 9.

The Slave Lake Gymnastics Association announced on Facebook that it had a few “hoops to jump through first” but was looking forward to reopening soon.

The Town of Slave Lake is working on a plan for reopening the Multi Rec Centre and pool.

At this time, Rex Theatre, in Slave Lake, doesn’t plan to reopen.

Starting Friday, campgrounds are no longer limited to 50 per cent capacity, says the media release. By July 1, all provincial camp sites will be open for registration. To register see alberta.parks.ca.

Allowable group sizes also increase in Stage II, says the release. Indoor mass gatherings increase to 50 people or fewer. Outdoor and indoor seated/audience events (including weddings and funerals) can be 100 people or fewer. All need to follow health measures and physical distancing.

Church and other religious services have no restrictions on numbers.
Restaurants, lounges, bars, casinos, and bingo halls also fall into this category.

Although there are no group size limits for religious services, the updated guidelines have restrictions and suggestions. For example, waving, nodding, and bowing as alternatives to handshaking and hugging. Shared meals fall under the 50 people restriction.

Restaurants, bars, etc. must have six feet (two metres) between tables and no more than six people at a table.

Gatherings with more people than the above guidelines are not allowed.

‘Cohort’ groups
‘Cohort’ groups are groups of people whose members don’t have to remain six feet (two metres) apart. These now include both household and sports/performing cohorts. Household cohorts can be up to 15 people.
Performing or sports cohorts can be up to 50. People can be part of both types of cohort.

Stage II includes more businesses and organizations able to open with restrictions.

  • K to 12 schools can hold in-school diploma exams and summer school, but regular in-school classes are not allowed.
  • More surgeries.
  • Wellness services – massage, acupuncture and reflexology.
  • Personal services – esthetics, cosmetic skin and body treatment, manicures, pedicures, waxing, facial treatment and artificial tanning.
  • Indoor recreation, fitness, gyms, arenas, and pools.
  • Movie theatres and theatres.
  • Instrumental concerts, but not vocal concerts as this has a high risk of transmission.
  • Community halls.
  • Libraries.
  • Team sports.
  • VLTs.
  • Casinos and bingo halls (but not table games).

Guidelines are available on alberta.ca.

There are still restrictions in place. These include major festivals and concerts, conferences, and trade shows. are not allowed, because these are non-seated events, which may include vocal singing.

Night clubs, amusement parks, hookah lounges (except to sell food and drink), major sporting events and tournaments are not allowed.

Non-essential travel outside of the province is still not recommended.

North Zone cases
On Monday, June 8, the total Alberta Health Services’ North Zone COVID-19 numbers decreased. All of the changes were of recovered cases. Notably, this decrease includes the long expected removal of the M.D. of Opportunity case. Also, two previous deaths were moved to a different county.

A decrease in the overall number of cases in a region is likely a correction of the person’s address, says a government of Alberta spokesperson.

The most noteworthy removal is the long awaited official announcement that there were no cases in the M.D of Opportunity.

As of June 8, Opportunity has zero cases of COVID-19.

On April 27, a case was reported in Opportunity, which includes the communities Red Earth Creek and Wabasca. While this person has long recovered from the virus, as of June 8, they are officially no longer listed in the region.

In early May, Opportunity Reeve Marcel Auger said Wabasca doctors were working with AHS to clear up some confusion regarding this case.The local doctors were 99 per cent certain that this case is a former Wabasca resident who moved away from the community some time ago and didn’t update their identification. The person lives in a different community now.

There were also decreases in recovered cases in the County of Northern Lights and Woodlands County, and a few other areas.

These type of decreases have happened several times during COVID-19.

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