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Premier of Alberta Jason Kenney in Edmonton on June 27, 2019.

The Canadian Press

Theatres, gyms, pools and other services will be allowed to reopen Friday and Grade 12 students will be able to return to school to take their exams, Alberta Premier Jason Kenney said as he announced the latest measures on the path to reopening Alberta’s economy.

Mr. Kenney said Tuesday that Stage 2 will go into effect for the entire province a week earlier than initially planned. The reopenings will also include several activities that weren’t planned until Stage 3. He said the province’s total number of active cases and hospitalizations have declined, even as their reopening has expanded since the beginning of May and with an increase in testing.

“We've come through it better than most,” Mr. Kenney said. “Our health system was better prepared, our response plan launched sooner and was more effective. Our citizens demonstrated great civic and personal responsibility and our infection and hospitalization rates were much lower as a result."

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Health officials say there are currently 355 active cases and 44 people in hospital, a decrease of almost 70 per cent in the past month.

Starting Friday, most businesses in the province can reopen to the public with certain restrictions. Two-metre physical-distancing requirements and public health guidelines will still be in place. Other business and activities allowed to resume include libraries, bingo halls and casinos, wellness services such as massage, acupuncture and reflexology and personal and cosmetic services such as waxing, facial treatments and tanning.

Indoor social gatherings, such as weddings or funerals, have a 50-person maximum and outdoor events and indoor seated events have a 100-person maximum. There is no cap on the number of people for worship gatherings, restaurants and bars, casinos and bingo halls.

The government also said that kindergarten to Grade 12 classes are to start up for diploma exams and summer courses, and all classes are to resume in September.

Deena Hinshaw, Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, said the province made it to Stage 2 earlier than expected because Albertans have been vigilant, but they will now need to accept safety precautions as their new normal and continue to comply with public health measures.

"As we move into Stage 2, continue to take care of yourselves and each other,” Dr. Hinshaw said.

Businesses and services in Alberta have been preparing to fully reopen to the public given government guidelines.

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Despite reopening plans moving forward a week to June 12, Will Ast, owner of Riverside Spa in Calgary, still plans to reopen his business on June 19.

The spa is planning to operate at 50-per-cent capacity once open and will only have three aestheticians working at a time to keep distancing measures in place.

“It’ll be good to have the facility back and the vibrancy of it,” Mr. Ast said. “It’s spa services and our guests usually walk out pretty happy, so it’ll be nice to see those smiles on their faces again.”

Alberta initiated Stage 1 of its relaunch plan on May 14, but it excluded some businesses in Calgary and Brooks because of their high number of COVID-19 cases. This allowed certain businesses such as retail stores, hair salons, daycares, museums and restaurants to reopen with enhanced safety measures in place.

Calgary and Brooks were allowed to partly reopen with the rest of the province on May 25.

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