This past Friday, a week after the Truckers Freedom Convoy arrived in the Canadian capital Ottawa, Alberta provincial premier Jason Kenney announced that the restrictions on freedom imposed because of the COVID-19 pandemic in his federal entity will come to an end early next week.
In a video posted on his official Twitter account, Kenney announced that his cabinet COVID committee will approve the lifting of the restrictions, and he said that Canadians “can and must get on with their lives, restore their freedoms” and live without fear of the virus
“Based on the experience of other jurisdictions around the world that were previously affected by Omicron, we can expect that pressure on our health care system to continue to decrease,” Kenney said in the video. “We are in a much better position to manage future waves of COVID, thanks to 90 percent of Alberta adults having received at least a first dose of the vaccine, plus a more widespread immunity from previous infections, adding new antiviral drugs.”
According to Premier Kenney’s statements, the COVID committee will approve a plan for the “careful lifting” of restrictive measures, starting with eliminating the Restrictions Exemption Program (REP), a local mandate that required businesses to require proof of vaccination, negative PCR tests or medical exemption for customers over the age of 12, plus the mandatory use of face masks.
A plan to achieve the end of restrictions
The local governor said that the REP was “reluctantly” approved by the committee “to avoid a catastrophe” in the public health system during the Delta variant wave, and that it was a pressure measure to get more people vaccinated.
Without directly mentioning the truckers freedom convoy, Kenney said that REP did not apply to essential areas with low risk of contagion “like, say, driving a truck,” as the federal mandates did.
“The REP has done its job,” Kenney said in relation to the results of the program, which facilitated the vaccination of thousands of people in Alberta. He insisted that vaccination was and remains key to promoting the reopening of the city and making easier the return to normalcy.
He further insisted that vaccination mandates and restrictions on freedom become meaningless as the population acquires some degree of immunity, adding that “as COVID changes, our response must change as well.”
As of next week, the province of Alberta will announce a specific date for the final end of REP and return to normalcy, as well as a phased plan to remove “almost all public health restrictions” by the end of the month.
“After two years of this, we simply cannot continue to rely on the blunt instrument of harmful restrictions as the primary tool to deal with a disease that will likely be with us for the rest of our lives,” the premier said. “We must find a way to get our lives back on track and get back to normal,” he concluded.