Alberta Premier Jason Kenney is urging the public to hold on a little longer with current COVID-19 restrictions until more people receive the vaccine and things “get back to normal” this summer.
Kenney said Monday the amount of available vaccine is increasing and he expects a quarter of Albertans will have some protection from the novel coronavirus in a matter of weeks.
Half of the population should have at least one shot by the end of May, two-thirds by the end of June and three-quarters by mid-September, he said.
“We’re nearing the end of a long and tiring journey. It is our path to recovery and freedom,” Kenney told a news conference.
“Once two-thirds of us have immunity, we’ll start to feel back to normal. There’ll be no formal restrictions. (Calgary) Stampede, sporting events, other festivals will be possible, especially if outdoors,” he added.
“Once three-quarters of us are immune, we expect we’ll be fully back to normal.”
Kenney said masks and physical distancing will still be encouraged of Albertans but not mandated.
The province has opened what it calls rapid flow vaccination clinics in Grande Prairie, Fort McMurray, Red Deer, Lethbridge and Medicine Hat.
Mega clinics — each able to able to administer up to 1,000 doses per hour and 6,000 per day — opened in Calgary and Edmonton on Monday.
Kenney has said vaccine rollout is critical, as the impact of COVID-19 on the province has become a race between the rise of the variants and getting a critical mass of people vaccinated.
The variants, which are more contagious than the original strain, now make up about half of Alberta’s 14,000 active cases.
“Right now the variants are winning that race,” said Kenney.
He added that socializing among young people remains a concern. A Calgary high school had to shut down recently because students were having house parties.
And in Athabasca, northeast of Edmonton, a number of schools had to be closed because of infections.
“A bunch of kids from one of those schools were brought together by their parents for a birthday party,” Kenney explained.
“Apparently the virus had a 100 per cent attack rate at that birthday party. All of the kids, who came to that birthday party, got sick.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 12, 2021.
— By Bill Graveland in Calgary
The Canadian Press