Doctors urging cautious approach as Alberta premier hints at reopening plan

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney said the province's plan to start easing restrictions could come late this week or early next week — and it's a plan that'll be based on the vaccination rate and hospitalizations.

"We should be, at some point in June, pushing 70 per cent of the eligible population vaccinated," Kenney said Monday.

"If so, that bodes very well for a broad reopening later this summer."

Alberta is taking a close look at Saskatchewan's plan to start reopening three weeks after 70 per cent of people aged 40 and older have received at least one shot. But Kenney says the plan here will be slower, because Alberta was hit harder in the third wave than its neighbour to the east.

A slow approach is what Calgary doctors are hoping for.

"The thing that I worry about is that if we lift restrictions too quickly," said Dr. Raj Bhardwaj, a Calgary physician.

"Once you lift restrictions, if numbers start to go up, then you're already behind and you're chasing again."

Alberta does appear to be slowly turning the corner in its battle against the third wave of COVID-19. Active cases fell below 22,000 for the first time since April 30 and the province recorded fewer than 1,000 new daily cases for the first time since late March.

The premier acknowledged that there's still a long way to go, but says the way to more relaxed restrictions will be through vaccinations.

"We need that vaccine-cautious share of the population to realize that their ticket to freedom and way back to normal lies in getting vaccinated," Kenney said.