With Alberta now in Stage 3 of the reopening plan, residents are no doubt pleased to see the lifting of COVID-19 restrictions on such things as indoor gatherings and public masking.
Due to a decline in the number of infections and increased vaccination rates, the return to somewhat normal life after many months of disruptions marks an important and welcome milestone.
To see the restrictions continue for many more months would have been a very heavy blow for residents, businesses, community organizations, sports teams and others. Thankfully, science and the sacrifices made by ordinary Albertans over the past months has paid off with the lifting of most of the protection measures.
And while it remains anyone’s guess when the pandemic itself may come to an end, it is now possible to count up some of the costs and the long-term impacts of the pandemic in this region.
As far as the area’s economy, the crisis has undoubtedly hurt many businesses, particularly those in the service industry where customers were reluctant or unable to venture out to restaurants, shops and other facilities in the district.
Hopefully the lifting of restrictions will lead to an immediate positive turnaround as people venture out, commit to long-delayed purchases, and start making shopping locally a new-found priority.
The impact on students in all grades in all area schools has also been widespread and far-reaching. Thankfully, the entire education community came together to make sure classes continued, whether in-person or online, while protecting students, teachers, staff and others.
The disruptions caused by the pandemic to the educational, social and mental well-being of students has been, and is being examined, with efforts already underway to help students cope with any lasting negative affects.
On the political side, the pandemic has highlighted many profound differences between the Jason Kenney UPC government and its opponents. As such, one of the biggest impacts of COVID-19 crisis may only be seen in the next provincial election campaign.
Dan Singleton is an editor with The Albertan.