LAKELAND - Municipalities across the Lakeland will be following the province's lead when it comes to public health restrictions after July 1.
On Canada Day, Albertans will be able to remove their masks as the province enters stage three of their Open for Summer plan.
Municipalities have the option of keeping them in place, however, communities such as the Town and County of St. Paul, Town and MD of Bonnyville, and City of Cold Lake have no intentions of veering off the province's path.
“Our line has been all along to follow whatever public health guidelines have been in place,” expressed MD of Bonnyville Reeve Greg Sawchuk. “If no masking is taking place as of July 1, we follow that.”
Also going off of the advice of Alberta's Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw are the City of Cold Lake and Town of Bonnyville.
“We don’t have a separate masking bylaw, unlike some municipalities. What we have always said is the town urges all residents to follow the recommendations of the Chief Medical Officer of Health,” noted Bill Rogers, CAO for the town.
County of St. Paul CAO Sheila Kitz said, "I don’t anticipate the County doing anything other than what is required by AHS."
On June 17, the province reached 70 per cent of Albertans 12-years-old and up having at least had their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. This was the threshold required in order to enter stage three of the Open for Summer plan.
As of July 1, all restrictions are lifted, including the ban on indoor social gatherings, and masks aren't needed aside from limited and specific settings.
Isolation requirements for confirmed cases of COVID and other protective measures in continuing care settings will remain in place.
Town of St. Paul Mayor Maureen Miller said, “I do not anticipate any additional restrictions to what will be recommended as of July 1. As a municipality, we have only followed the health orders in place.”
The same goes for the Cold Lake.
Mayor Craig Copeland explained how they too have been following the provincial guidelines.
“We followed them the whole journey here and we will follow them to Canada Day, and everyone can take their mask off if they so choose,” he told Lakeland This Week. “Our role here was to help the local health care professionals in any kind of assistance we can, but we stayed out of the way. This is a provincial matter, (we) followed the Chief Medical Officer’s advice in terms of masks."
As of June 25, The MD of Bonnyville has 22 active cases of COVID-19, Cold Lake has 16, the County of St. Paul has eight, and the County of Lac La Biche has the least number of positive cases in the region with two.
Over 3.9 million doses of the COVID vaccine have been administered in Alberta as of June 22, with 71 per cent of eligible Albertans getting the jab.
In the Cold Lake region, 58 per cent of those 12 and up have been immunized, while in the Bonnyville area that number sits at 50.7 per cent. St. Paul is at 48.5 per cent, and Lac La Biche is at 54.4 per cent.
Copeland said, “Everyone has done a great job in dealing with COVID, but I think we eventually have to start moving on with our lives, knowing that COVID might still be out there, but I think it comes to a point where we have to start getting our lives back together."