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Alberta continues COVID mask rules for public transport after most restrictions lift


EDMONTON — Alberta's general COVID-19 mask rules are going, but they won’t be completely gone by July 1.

Dr. Deena Hinshaw, chief medical officer of health, says some mask rules will remain in place after the mask mandate in indoor public places lifts on Canada Day.

She says masks will continue to be required in taxis, on public transit and on ride shares.

Hinshaw says there's still a risk given they are enclosed spaces and some people may not be fully vaccinated.

Masks will also still be required in continuing care and acute care settings.

Calgary will have its mask mandate in place until July 5, and Edmonton will make a final decision Friday.

A motion to deactivate Edmonton's mandatory mask bylaw on Canada Day was defeated by one vote Tuesday. The motion would have ended the bylaw on July 1, but it failed on third reading so that vote was pushed to the next council meeting. A special meeting has been set for Friday.

Calgary city council decided Monday to keep that city's bylaw in place until its next meeting on July 5. At that time, council will consider the level of hospitalizations, infection rates, second-dose vaccinations and positivity rates before repealing the bylaw.

Premier Jason Kenney has announced that all major health restrictions can lift on Canada Day given that more than 70 per cent of eligible Albertans have received at least one dose.

Hinshaw said about 71 per cent of those aged 12 and over have now received at least one dose and more than 30 per cent have received two.

More than 3.85 million doses of vaccine have been administered in Alberta.

"Our numbers are declining quickly, which is a testament to the power of vaccines and to the way Albertans are all helping protect each other," Hinshaw said Tuesday.

Case numbers continued to fall. 

Alberta reported 57 new cases of COVID-19 and there were 1,773 active cases, which is the fewest recorded since early October.

There were 200 people in hospital, including 54 in intensive care.

Kenney has said vaccine protection is the key to avoiding future health restrictions in the months to come. 

Provincial officials estimate another 15 per cent of the eligible population is willing to get vaccinated but, for whatever reason, has not done so. To that end, the province is giving away three $1-million prizes in draws this summer for those who have been vaccinated.

There are also free airline trips and passes to events at the upcoming Calgary Stampede.

— With files from CTV Edmonton

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 22, 2021.

Dean Bennett, The Canadian Press