CALGARY (660 NEWS) — Alberta will move to Stage 1 of the ‘Open for Summer’ plan on June 1.
Easing of restrictions will mean personal services such as hair and nail salons will be open by appointment only.
Also, restaurant patios will reopen, allowing for up to four diners within the same household per table.
A local restaurant and bar owner is feeling optimistic about patios reopening.
Annabelle’s Kitchen and Bar Annabelle owner Leslie Echino says they have seen a drop in takeout over the last three or four weeks, which signals to her people will be ready to connect in person again.
She adds it’s been hard for Alberta restaurant owners to retain employees, especially with so many young people in the industry.
“I think they’re able to be maybe more mobile,” she said.
“So I’ve had three of my long-time staff that have worked for me like eight, nine years actually moved to Vancouver and got jobs there right away.
“I think it’s for a lot of young people there just like ‘let’s get out of here, let’s enjoy life a bit’ and so things have been more open in British Columbia than here.”
Echino says the main issue in Alberta was how many times the rules shifted between in-person and takeout-only service.
She plans to space out the reopenings of her three locations — starting with the Marda Loop location.
“I want to be open 100 per cent,” said Echino. “I am nervous a little bit that this is happening very quickly.
“You know to go from, you can’t talk to anybody outside your bubble and household, to all of the sudden have that open in two weeks, indoor dining, I think there will be a lot of hesitancy for the public to dine indoors. I still think patios will be the more popular choice for sure, I even think for me personally.”
To move into Stage 2 on June 10, the number of Albertans in hospital needs to be fewer than 500, and over 60 per cent of eligible Albertans need to have at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
Currently, the province has met both thresholds, as the number of people hospitalized due to COVID-19 dropped to only 478 on Saturday.
We have reached the 60% vaccine threshold for Stage 2 of our Open for Summer plan. Stage 2 easing could begin June 10, provided hosps are <500 & declining. Continue to make safe choices in the days & weeks ahead, including following all health measures currently in place. (5/5)
— Dr. Deena Hinshaw (@CMOH_Alberta) May 28, 2021
“This decline in the number of people in hospital due to COVID-19 shows that Albertans’ efforts to stick to guidelines and to get vaccinated are paying off,” said Premier Jason Kenney.
“As long as hospitalizations stay below 500, we will move into Stage 2 on June 10 and be one step closer to having an amazing and fully open Alberta summer.”
Kenney says all COVID-19 restrictions could be lifted by late June or early July if people continue getting their vaccinations.
“We could hit Stage 3 with a fully open summer as early as June 28,” he said.
“If more Albertans book more vaccines, more quickly, that day could even come more quickly as well, so that’s just how close we might be folks. But it’s up to Albertans now.”
WATCH: Alberta’s top doctor backs the province’s reopening plan (May 28, 2021)
The reaction has been mixed to the premier’s plan. There’s some worry that it is being rushed, and that not enough second doses of vaccines have been administered to prevent a fourth wave of the virus.
Dr. James Talbot, a former chief medical officer of health in Alberta, says the province is taking a unique approach.
“Six weeks from now when they’re proposing that you don’t need to wear a mask indoors, you don’t have to social distance, you can go anywhere you want, be with anybody you want,” he said.
“Most of the rest of the world has decided that you would only go to that degree of openness when you have 70 per cent of people at two doses.”
He advises people to continue being as safe as possible even after reopening and recommends they stay away from large gatherings until receiving the second dose.
–with files from The Canadian Press