The Restrictions Exemption Program is one of several COVID-19 restrictions to be lifted midnight Wednesday. Also taking effect as of 11:59 Tuesday is the removal of restrictions on food and beverage service at entertainment venues as well as capacity limits for all facilities except those with a capacity of 500 or more.
Premier Jason Kenney says when the REP was put in place last fall, it was in an effort to try and boost vaccine rates, which has happened.
“The restriction exemption program has served its useful purpose, it has done its job. It’s no longer leading to higher vaccination rates. In fact, we’ve seen our vaccination rates effectively frozen since early December.”
Starting on Monday, February 14th, the province will remove almost all restrictions for kids, including the mask mandate for all K-12 students. Children 12 and under will also become exempt from the overall indoor mask mandate, which will remain in place for the time being.
“We are well-positioned to live with this virus as we do with many other infectious diseases,” Kenney adds.
In all, the plan revealed Tuesday will be laid out in three stages. Kenney says if hospitalization rates continue to trend downward in a meaningful way, Step 2 will begin at 11:59 pm on February 28th.
Step 2 will include the removal of the provincial mask mandate, all other provincial school requirements, capacity limits for all venues, and limits on social gatherings all removed.
Step 3 would remove COVID-19 specific measures in continuing care and make mandatory isolation a recommendation only. There is no firm timeline for that stage as it will be determined based on hospitalization rates continuing to trend downwards.