Albertans are expecting to find out Monday afternoon whether more COVID-19 restrictions will be eased.
A cabinet committee of the UCP government is scheduled to meet to decide whether to move to phase 3 of its reopening plan before Alberta Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw’s 3:30 p.m. press conference.
Premier Jason Kenney said last week the key metric is the hospitalization rate, which had been well under the 300 benchmark announced in January for three weeks before climbing at the end of last week. As of Sunday, 282 Albertans were in hospital with COVID-19.
Case counts have also risen sharply, to more than 500 each day since the middle of last week. New variant cases broke records on Thursday, Friday and Sunday.
Alberta reported 555 new cases of COVID-19, including 184 variants of concern, on Sunday. Fifteen per cent of the province’s 5,971 active cases are the faster-spreading, more contagious mutations.
The third phase of the province’s reopening plan could include opening entertainment venues such as movie theatres and casinos, and allowing adult team sports.
Currently, retailers, restaurants, youth sports, and in-person worship services are open with capacity restrictions, but indoor gatherings remain banned and outdoor get-togethers are capped at 10 people.
With files from The Canadian Press
For more on Alberta’s vaccine rollout, read our guide driven by reader questions.