The Alberta New Democratic Party has succeeded in its push to delay the province’s controversial plan to end routine COVID-19 testing, contact tracing, and mandatory isolation this month.
On Thursday, the United Conservative Party government held a meeting to discuss the next steps in the province’s strategy, a government source said, who chose to remain anonymous as they were not authorized to speak publicly on the matter, according to the Globe and Mail.
In a news conference, the NDP cited its own sources, saying that the government had decided to delay the plans to end routine COVID-19 testing, contact tracing, and mandatory isolation, with some of the changes to take effect on Monday.
Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, Deena Hinshaw, announced last month that from August 16, the province would no longer legally require those with COVID-19 isolate, saying that the high level of vaccination in the province would now allow citizens to treat COVID-19 as an endemic illness and long-term part of life, like other respiratory viruses.
Hinshaw also said the province would stop wide-scale testing by the end of the month, and that contact tracers will no longer notify those exposed to the virus, except cases in high-risk settings such as long-term care facilities.
She also said mask mandates will no longer be in place in schools, with classes set to resume in September.
Premier Jason Kenney and Health Minister Tyler Shandro say that the decision is based on science and data provided by Dr. Hinshaw’s team. They insisted that the decision was not political.
Despite the politicians’ denials, the move has been decried as too drastic by some public health experts and doctors and has indeed become subject to everyday protests.
The Calgary Chamber of Commerce raised concerns that the policies could impact the province’s business reputation and hurt the economy.