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Alberta extends timelines on COVID-19 transition

Friday, August 13, 2021 @ 12:59 PM | By Ian Burns

Alberta has announced it is hitting the pause button on its much-criticized plan to ease COVID-19 restrictions.

Rules requiring mandatory isolation for 10 days for those with COVID-19 symptoms or a positive test result and masking in publicly accessible transit, taxis and ride-shares, which were originally scheduled to lift Aug. 16, will now continue until Sept. 27.

The province’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said an increase in hospitalizations in the province and evidence of more children getting sick in the United States means Alberta has to change its approach.

“To be clear, there is no issue with hospital capacity. Anyone who needs treatment will get it, either for a COVID-related illness or an unrelated issue,” Hinshaw said at a press conference Aug. 13. “But reviewing data from Alberta and across the globe in the past few weeks has led me to a point where I feel that a pause on the next changes is the best way forward.”

The six-week pause will provide additional time to monitor severe outcomes of COVID-19 and increase immunization rates, Hinshaw said. But the changes Alberta brought in at the end of July, such as no longer requiring a mandatory quarantine for individuals who come into close contact with people who have gotten the virus, will remain in place.

Health Minister Tyler Shandro said it is important to move forward with decisions “based on the best evidence and appropriate caution.”

“I appreciate Dr. Hinshaw’s advice to allow more time for us to monitor the situation and help ensure a safe reopening, including a safe return to school,” he said. “This extra time will help us make a safe transition to living with COVID-19 as we get our communities, our economy, and our health system back to normal.”

More information about Alberta’s COVID-19 response can be found here.

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