Albertans can hit the gym and eat at a restaurant again from February 8 after Premier Jason Kenney announced several COVID-19 restrictions were lifted

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Children’s sports and performance activities may also be resumed if they are related to school activities, and K-12 schools and post-secondary institutions may use outside facilities to support curriculum-related educational activities

Group or team sports are still not permitted, but individual lessons for activities such as fitness in dance studios or figure skating on ice are offered if an appointment has been made

The relaxation marks step 1 of a four-step process that tracks the number of hospital stays before the restrictions are relaxed

If Alberta hospitalization numbers hit the next benchmark within three weeks, officials will decide whether to lift the next round of restrictions

Step 2 requires less than 450 hospital stays to be relaxed for things like retail stores, banquet halls, and community halls

In Step 3, adult team sports could resume, casinos, race centers, and bingo halls could reopen, and indoor gatherings with restrictions could take place if there are fewer than 300 hospital stays

As soon as there are less than 150 hospital stays, the province will attempt to revert to restrictions similar to last summer’s

“The more we see our numbers go down, the clearer our way forward becomes,” said Kenney. “But let’s not let our guard down

“Let’s keep working hard to reduce the number of hospitalizations so that we can be here sooner rather than later and have more good news””

On Friday, Dr Deena Hinshaw announced that 594 people were in the hospital, including 110 in the intensive care unit

A further 543 cases have been confirmed and about 11600 tests performed The province’s positivity rate was about 45 percent

Hinshaw also announced that Alberta Health had reported 14 additional deaths related to COVID-19 in the past 24 hours, of which nine were in the Edmonton Zone

Eight of these deaths were attributable to outbreaks in the area.A woman in her seventies and a woman in her nineties, both linked to the Jubilee Lodge Nursing Home outbreak, died as well as a man in their eighties, who has been linked to the outbreak at the Royal Alexandra Hospital and a woman in her nineties linked to the outbreak at the Miller Crossing Care Center

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The other four deaths all occurred at the Summerwood Village Retirement Residence. One man in his nineties, one man in his seventies, and two women in their eighties all died

Also in the area, Alberta Health reported that a man in his sixties died with unknown comorbidities

One death has been reported in the Calgary Zone: a man in his nineties linked to the Intercare Southwood outbreak His case involved comorbidities

A woman in her eighties linked to the Seasons Camrose outbreak and a man in her eighties linked to the Vermilion Health Center – Long Term Care outbreak both died Both cases included comorbidities

A man in his thirties also died in the central zone, Alberta Health said he had no known comorbidities at the time

“While the number of COVID deaths is declining, every death is a tragedy for those who love them,” Hinshaw

As of Friday afternoon, there have been active warnings or outbreaks at 291 schools, or about 12 percent of schools in the province. The schools had a total of 607 new cases

Hinshaw also announced that the province has identified 12 more cases of COVID-19 variants to date, there have been 31 cases of UK Tribe and a total of six cases of the tribe from South Africa

All but three cases were related to travel. Hinshaw said those three were all from the same household and one of those people was previously announced

Alberta COVID Update, Alberta Restrictions

World News – CA – Alberta to Lift Some COVID-19 Restrictions and Reopen Gyms Aug.