Alberta eases some COVID-19 restrictions

By Tiffany Goodwein	
		COVID-19 update 717 new cases reported on Saturday

The restrictions that will be adjusted include the outdoor gathering rules.

"Alberta's hospitalizations and case numbers remain high and they pose a threat to our health system capacity", Health Minister Tyler Shandro told a news conference.

Personal wellness services like salons, barbershops, aesthetics, reflexology, tattoo and piercing shop will reopen January 18 on an appointment-only basis.

With case numbers falling, Alberta will ease some public health restrictions starting on Monday, allowing hair salons, barbershops and other personal-services businesses to reopen by appointment only. Funerals can now have 20 people in attendance, but receptions are still prohibited.

Alberta reported 717 cases of COVID-19 on Saturday after completing 12,439 tests on Friday.

Alberta hospitals are treating 806 for COVID-19, including 136 patients who are in ICU beds. We want to ensure the safety of Albertans, while balancing the uncertainty faced by Alberta businesses and service providers.

In addition to banning outdoor gatherings, restaurants and bars were limited to delivery and takeout. In September, a clear majority of parents chose in-person learning for their children during the pandemic, and Alberta's education system has done an excellent job of implementing and following provincial health measures.

The mandatory health measures introduced in December were meant to limit as much in-person interaction as possible, he said, to minimize exposure to the virus.

A school in Alberta won't be considered to have a COVID-19 outbreak until it has five or more confirmed cases. However, Dr. Deena Hinshaw said more restrictions will be lifted if active cases continue dropping.

"This really is up to all of us to be able to meet those step-wise levels going down to be able to open additional things going forward".