While we face a long road to full recovery, our collective efforts have helped slow the spread of COVID-19.
Alberta launched Stage 2 on Friday, June 12. Well ahead of schedule.
Stage 3 of the relaunch will depend on our ability to keep infection numbers low.
Last Saturday, Calgary police estimated more than 4,000 people attended a Black Lives Matter rally at Olympic Plaza. People have taken to the streets in the thousands in at least four separate events.
Many protesters are following public health advice while demonstrating: wearing masks, distancing, using hand sanitizer, and getting tested for COVID-19. But there’s no safe way to demonstrate in huge gatherings during a pandemic. The threat of new waves of COVID-19 is real. It doesn’t take a big spark to create an outbreak that numbers in the thousands.
The sustained attendance at rallies has probably been made possible, in part, because people are not working. People may also be looking for a way to feel empowered at a time that feels disempowering.
Anti-racism rallies during ongoing restrictions on gatherings related to COVID-19 are a matter of balancing important competing interests.
What’s worse: More people dying of COVID-19 or sustained systemic racism?
Epidemiologists can model what happens when people get closer together during a pandemic. They can tell us COVID-19 is more likely to spread when people convene, that more infections and deaths may result. They can’t model what happens to disparities in society, when a mass protest movement changes anti-racist attitudes for the better.
“Enjoy life, do it safely and no need to panic,” Premier Jason Kenney told Albertans as he announced the launch of Stage 2 and lifted the following restrictions:
• K-12 schools, for requested diploma exams and summer school
• libraries, with some restrictions
• places of worship;
• wellness services, such as massage, acupuncture and reflexology
• personal services, including esthetics, cosmetics, skin and body treatments, manicures, pedicures, waxing, facial treatment and tanning
• movie theatres and theatres, with restrictions
• community halls, with limits on attendance
• team sports, with restrictions, for up to 50 players
• provincial campgrounds can operate at full capacity
Areas that were part of Stage 3 and moved forward include:
• indoor and outdoor recreation, fitness and sports centres, including gyms and swimming pools, with measures in place
• concerts, casinos and bingo halls, arcades and video lottery terminals in restaurants and lounge
Events and gatherings that can be larger in Stage 2 include:
• indoor social gatherings – including wedding and funeral receptions and birthday parties, with a maximum of 50 people;
• outdoor events and indoor seated events, including wedding and funeral ceremonies, with a maximum of 100 people
• as long as public health measures and physical distancing are in place, there will no longer be caps on the number of people who can attend worship gatherings, or patronize restaurants, cafés, lounges and bars.
No one knows what’s going to happen next, or how big the next wave might be. In our country, with a patchwork system of response and varying levels of adherence to social distancing and mask-wearing, there are still many unknowns about the virus will spread.
Age-Friendly Committee of the Olds Institute