Premier Kenney eyes September as potential return to ‘normal’: Outdoor festivals could return in July

CALGARY — Premier Jason Kenney held out a carrot Monday for Albertans to follow health directives and get vaccinated as soon as possible.

It boiled down to: the more Albertans get vaccinated, the fewer the restrictions.

“In the coming weeks we’ll be able to say that almost a quarter of Albertans have some degree of immunity,” Kenney said in the online address. “Either through the vaccines or from prior infection.”

In an update on the vaccine rollout Monday morning, the premier said by the end of May just under half of Albertans should have a degree of immunity. He said that would allow an easing of some restrictions, including group gathering restrictions.

It’s hoped by the end of June that immunity level will have risen to 64 per cent, removing restrictions and allowing outdoor festivals this summer.

By September, Kenney predicted that as many as 73 per cent of Albertans will have protection, allowing a return to approximately what ‘normal’ used to look like: no mask requirements, no limits on gatherings. The only exception would be in-school protocols for K to 12 students, who will not be offered vaccines for the foreseeable future.

CAUTION FROM DOCTORS

Doctors caution that good vaccination rates won’t make COVID vanish overnight.

“What’s going to happen is we are going to stop having large outbreaks,” said Dr. Daniel Gregson, with U of C’s Cummings School of Medicine. “When there is an outbreak at a bar, instead of getting 30 or 40 infected you’ll get five or six infected.”

Gregson also said that consequences of infection don’t change for unvaccinated people.

“You don’t necessarily die from COVID-19, but you may have long-term symptoms even if you’re relatively young.”

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