Dozens rally at Alberta legislature amid fears, frustrations with lifting of COVID-19 restrictions

EDMONTON — Dozens attended a noon hour at the Alberta legislature building Friday as doctors continues to express fear and frustration at the province’s plan to further lift COVID-19 restrictions next month.

The rally was held alongside a parallel protest outside the McDougall Centre in Calgary. 

On Wednesday, the province announced it was shifting its public health response and lifting a number of measures related to quarantine, isolation, testing and masks.

Health Minister Tyler Shandro said the changes follow rising vaccination numbers and comparably lower risk of severe outcomes for children who contract COVID-19. 

“The data shows that what the vaccines are doing is making it less infectious and less deadly. That’s a good thing that allows us to move to that endemic response.”

Doctors have criticized the changes as reckless.

Noel Gibney, a professor emeritus at the University of Alberta’s department of critical care, says the province’s plan leaves too many unanswered questions. 

“Why? Why are we doing these stupid things? Why are we going against all basic principles of public health?” 

“It makes absolutely no medical sense.”

The number of new COVID-19 cases in Alberta has spiked sharply in recent weeks after the removal of most health restrictions on July 1. 

In previous waves, a rise in both hospitalization and deaths has followed several weeks after an increase in cases. 

Dr. Hinshaw had said that pattern may not repeat itself given the protection vaccines afford against severe outcomes.

The province’s next data update is scheduled for Friday afternoon.

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