Restrictions to continue into 2022, Kenney says in Facebook live appearance

From the best summer ever to the winter of 'we have to monitor all of this very carefully'.

That was the gist of the message delivered by Premier Kenney Wednesday night in a Facebook live appearance where Kenney said that restrictions would remain in place until at least the first quarter of 2022.

It was a sober message delivered despite the fact that the fourth wave of COVID-19 appears to have crested, with case numbers beginning to ebb.

"It appears the fourth wave is coming down. We see COVID-19 shrinking in Alta. All of those things are good news, but it's still too soon (to lift restrictions)," Kenney said.

"Why?" he said, continuing." Because we are headed into colder weather. People are indoors more, which leads to a risk of higher transmission. Plus we are likely to experience at some point this winter a waning effect of immunity acquired through natural infection. Plus a waning effect from the protection offered by vaccines."

"Don't get me wrong,"he added. "Vaccines are massively effective – but there is evidence in Israel and elsewhere, that that protection can abate over time – so we have to watch that very closely. It's why we're now offering booster shots to people over 75 in Alberta.

"Long story short: we just have to monitor all of this very carefully and not create arbitrary metrics given the virulence and lethality of the Delta variant and other potential variants that could come after."

Kenney said he hoped that six months from now, he and all Albertans would be looking back at the turning point in the pandemic, when it shifted to endemic – but confessed he's already gotten the timing of that prognostication wrong once before.

"We thought that was happening in the summer based on our analysis of other jurisdictions, and we were wrong in our analysis, and largely just because under vaccination here," he said.

"Here's the good news: the more people who get vaccinated, the more quickly we can move beyond restrictions as a response to COVID-19," he added.

"And the less likely we will be affected by future waves. And the more quickly we can reschedule all the surgeries that have been postponed.

"And the more lives that can be saved."

Thirty-eight new deaths related to COVID-19 were announced Wednesday and the province said 76 per cent of eligible Albertans are now vaccinated with two doses.

The Facebook lives do not permit journalists an opportunity to ask follow-up questions of the premier. Kenney last held a media conference on Tuesday.

His Facebook appearance also coincided with a new poll showing Kenney's approval rating to be the lowest among Canadian premiers, at 22 per cent.