Before I begin the update, I want to take this moment to acknowledge the discovery of 215 unmarked graves of children at the site of a former residential school in Kamloops, BC. This is a devastating and heartbreaking discovery and a sobering reminder of this dark chapter in our history as a nation. I want to offer my prayers for those most personally affected and prayers for our nation as we try to heal.
Last week, the Premier and Minister of Health announced Alberta’s 3-stage strategy to reopen the province for good. These past many months have been difficult for us all in so many ways. As we set our sights on reopening, I want to extend my sincere condolences to anyone who has lost a loved one during the pandemic. I am deeply sorry for your loss.
With the combination of dropping case rates and vaccinations increasing daily, Alberta is poised to put the pandemic behind us. 83% of eligible Albertans aged 12 and up have now received or are booked to receive their first dose of vaccine. With these numbers, and warmer weather ahead, we are confident that the pandemic threat will soon be a thing of the past.
I want to take this opportunity to thank my constituents, again, for your patience and your dedication to work together for the betterment of our community and our province throughout these challenging days. I have sincerely appreciated the many opportunities to connect throughout the pandemic via phone, email, and in virtual meetings. I am very excited to reopen my office to in-person meetings in the coming days. I have certainly missed face-to-face interaction and look forward to the opportunity to partake in community events later this summer.
I know we are all looking forward to returning to normal, and in just a few short weeks, we hope to have lifted all COVID-19 restrictions. The lifting of restrictions will occur in 3 stages.
Click here for information on Alberta’s Open For Summer Plan
Stage 1, began today, June 1st, and increases capacity for weddings, outdoor social gatherings, and outdoor youth sports to 10 people; patio dining is open; funeral attendance increases to 20 people; and attendance at places of worship increases to 15% of fire code.
Stage 2 will begin on June 10 as we have already met the vaccination requirements of 60%, however we must wait for the vaccine to take effect. Hospitalizations are also below the 500 threshold.
Stage 3 will begin 2 weeks after 70% of eligible Albertans have received their first dose. This stage will see all remaining public health restrictions lifted. If vaccinations keep up and hospitalizations continue to fall, we anticipate we will reach Stage 3 by early July.
Our plan is ambitious, and is based on the data and supported by the success we are witnessing in other jurisdictions such as the United Kingdom, Israel, and the United States. We are so close to the finish line; now is not the time to let up the race. In just over a month I look forward to celebrating with you as we place our focus fully on recovery and enjoy the best Albertan summer ever. Vaccines are safe, effective, and provide a path to the end of this pandemic. Although the vaccine is not mandatory in Alberta, I hope you will take your opportunity to get immunized. Please continue to do your part, get vaccinated if you are able, and hold on a little longer – the best is yet to come.
Hoping to see you out and about in Grande Prairie this summer!
As always, I remain in your service.
Tracy L. Allard, MLA for Grande Prairie