Cabinet committee scheduled to discuss easing Alberta's COVID-19 restrictions

County of Grande Prairie COVID-19 statistics as

County of Grande Prairie COVID-19 statistics as

Health Minister Tyler Shandro said it wouldn't make sense to reopen further now only to pull back once hospital admissions return above 300, as expected in the coming days. As of March 22nd, Alberta Health Services reports 49 active cases, following 12 recoveries and one new case recorded Monday.

"There will be no easing of any restrictions at this time", he said.

"This is the safe move".

Shandro noted that other worrisome numbers have been escalating. But that trend has reversed in recent weeks, with infections increasing by more than a third compared with a week ago and hospitalizations up by more than 10 per cent.

Ahead of Chief Medical Officer Dr. Deena Hinshaw's Monday update, the NDP Opposition issued a press release calling for restraint.

Of more concern is the rise in variants, which are more contagious than the original novel coronavirus and can potentially overrun a health system if left unchecked.

"Jason Kenney must put the safety of Albertans first and focus on containing the spread of these unsafe new variants", said Alberta NDP leader Rachel Notley.

Almost all of the 197 new variant cases were the United Kingdom strain (B.1.1.7), apart from two more of the Brazilian (P.1) variant found in Calgary, bringing the province to a total of four P1 cases.

"Now more than ever, Jason Kenney needs to come clean with Albertans about what he knows and what his intentions are".

"We understand the frustration of not just the business owners but all Albertans and how public-health measures are affecting our activities and affecting our businesses", he said. Initial restrictions were put in last spring during the pandemic's first wave.

Retailers, restaurants, youth sports and in-person worship services are open with capacity restrictions. Two members of Mr. Kenney's caucus joined an anti-lockdown group.

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