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Is Kenney getting a little too relaxed?

By Sophia Lopez, July 1 2021— 

It was announced on June 18 that Alberta reached over 70 per cent of people over 12 years old with the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, meaning we can now move on to Stage 3 of Premier Jason Kenney’s Open for Summer plan. As of July 1, Albertans can expect to see all restrictions lifted, including the ban on indoor social gatherings. 

While I think we’re all happy to see a bit of normalcy come back with this new stage, I think our premier has forgotten some of our earlier mistakes regarding COVID-19. 

Alberta experienced two major spikes in COVID-19 cases — once in December, and once towards the end of April and beginning of May. These two spikes were both a result of the province relaxing too quickly. We need to remember that patience is the key to all success — we can’t expect to see the results we want right away just because things are going well for us. Getting too ahead of ourselves might lead us to going back to where we originally started. Alberta began in March as one of the best provinces handling COVID-19 in Canada, but when fall came around, we got too confident. 

From September to December, COVID cases in Alberta rose drastically. While cases calmed down in February, another spike occurred where cases from March to May rose immensely. In March, Alberta saw a decrease in COVID cases after a tough winter season of people having to stay indoors. As a result, the government believed it was time to start easing restrictions once again in the hopes of getting back to our normal lives — but that plan clearly didn’t go as planned. 

Recent news highlights how Alberta has reached the lowest amount of COVID cases since October 2020, and that the government’s reopening plan is well on its way. The irony of this is how in October, when restrictions began to be eased as a result of those low case numbers, that number began to rise shortly after. Alberta then made the same mistake of easing restrictions too early in March of this year. There’s a clear correlation between easing restrictions and rises of COVID cases in Alberta. 

Who’s to say this pattern won’t continue? 

Although Alberta continues to receive vaccines and we currently have 71.3 per cent of people over 12 vaccinated with their first dose and 34.3 per cent fully vaccinated, COVID-19 variants seem to still be disregarded.

Developmental biologist with the University of Calgary, Dr. Gosia Gasperowicz, recently discussed how Delta variant cases are “doubling roughly every six to 12 days.” She predicts that this variant could become the dominant strain if the number of cases continues to increase. 

It is discouraging to see how Kenney is ready to move on without precaution — especially since variant cases are rising as quickly as Gasperowicz states. 

Just like everyone else at this point I’m ready to get back to how things were, but I also fear that Alberta will continue to follow this pattern of infection spikes. As much as I want to forget about COVID and move on, I think it is important for us to make sure that our desired reality comes true by making a slower progression to normality. By being patient, we can ensure we don’t see another increase in cases and that a “Closed for Winter” plan isn’t something we can expect for this year. 

While travelling and getting together with bigger groups of friends is a possibility for this year, I think it is important to keep taking care of ourselves and being mindful of others. With Canada Day coming up, I hope everyone continues to follow the municipal mask mandate set in place by the City of Calgary, and sanitize as much as possible — I’m sure we can all agree we don’t want to see another spike in cases. 

I think I can speak for most people that carrying a little hand sanitizer bottle everywhere we go has become just as essential as carrying our wallet at this point. Kenney has taken a big risk to remove all COVID restrictions starting July 1. As much as our premier has made questionable decisions in the past around easing restrictions when it clearly didn’t benefit us, I truly hope this Open for Summer Plan works out for him — and the rest of us that crave some “normal” social interaction, of course. 

Vaccines continue to roll into the province and more people are starting to get vaccinated. In order for all of our time spent quarantining to pay off, we need to ensure that we continue to be responsible and follow any mandates in place. Remember to wash your hands, wear a mask and be respectful of others, or else this whole cycle will continue on until who knows when.

Stay safe out there!

This article is part of our Opinions section and does not necessarily reflect the views of the Gauntlet’s editorial board.

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