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Alberta

Back To Work! – Restaurants to open, kids “school” sports, and one on one indoor personal fitness will be allowed beginning February 8

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From the Province of Alberta

Alberta is introducing a path forward for easing COVID-19 health restrictions, with clear benchmarks for hospitalizations. This will begin with step 1, with some restrictions easing on February 8

Easing of provincewide health measures will occur in steps based on COVID-19 hospitalization benchmarks.

These steps and benchmarks will provide a transparent approach to easing restrictions for businesses and individuals while protecting the health-care system.

Each step has an associated benchmark of hospitalized COVID-19 patients, including intensive care patients. Changes to restrictions will be considered once a benchmark is reached.

The hospitalization benchmarks are:

  • Step 1 – 600 and declining
  • Step 2 – 450 and declining
  • Step 3 – 300 and declining
  • Step 4 – 150 and declining

With hospitalizations dipping below 600, Alberta will move to Step 1 on Feb. 8.

If after three weeks the hospitalization numbers are in the range of the next benchmark, decisions will be considered for moving to Step 2. The same three-week re-evaluation period will be used for all subsequent steps.

“This roadmap sets out a clear path for when and how Albertans will see some easing of heath measures. By outlining the benchmarks we must achieve to see more reopenings, we are offering hope and a path forward. But we have to proceed with caution. This stepped approach will only work if Albertans continue to follow existing health measures and make good choices to keep our numbers trending down. It’s up to each one of us to maintain our vigilance.”

Jason Kenney, Premier

“Throughout the pandemic, we’ve emphasized the importance of maintaining our health-care capacity. These hospitalization benchmarks will help us chart a path forward to carefully restart businesses and activities that people depend on. We’re laying out a series of steps to ease selected measures starting with those that have the lowest risk, all subject to the need to protect our health system.”

Tyler Shandro, Minister of Health

“By outlining a roadmap with clear targets, we want Albertans to see themselves as part of the solution. We must all continue to follow public health measures and reduce the spread of COVID-19 to see our downward trend continue. Only as we see hospitalizations fall low enough can we consider additional easing of restrictions.”

Dr. Deena Hinshaw, chief medical officer of health

Indoor masking and distancing requirements will remain in place throughout the entire stepped approach, and some degree of restrictions will still apply to all activities within each step.

The grouping and sequencing of steps is based on relative risk for COVID-19 transmission. Actions with the lowest relative risk will be those first considered for easing.

Early steps: In effect Jan. 18

  • Outdoor social gatherings allowed up to 10 people.
  • Personal and wellness services opened for appointments only.
  • Funeral service attendance was raised to 20 people.
  • In-person classes resumed for K-12 students (Jan. 11).

Step 1:  Hospitalization benchmark – 600

  • Potential easing of some restrictions related to:
    • Indoor and outdoor children’s sport and performance (school-related only)
    • Indoor personal fitness, one-on-one and by appointment only
    • Restaurants, cafes, and pubs

Step 2:  Hospitalization benchmark – 450

  • Potential easing of some restrictions related to:
    • Retail
    • Community halls, hotels, banquet halls and conference centres
    • Further easing of some restrictions eased in Step 1

Step 3: Hospitalization benchmark – 300

  • Potential easing of some restrictions related to:
    • Places of worship
    • Adult team sports
    • Museums, art galleries, zoos and interpretive centres
    • Indoor seated events, including movie theatres and auditoriums
    • Casinos, racing centres and bingo halls
    • Libraries
    • Further easing of some restrictions eased in Steps 1 and 2

Step 4: Hospitalization benchmark – 150

  • Potential easing of some restrictions related to:
    • Indoor entertainment centres and play centres
    • Tradeshows, conferences and exhibiting events
    • Performance activities (e.g., singing, dancing, wind instruments)
    • Outdoor sporting events (e.g., rodeo)
    • Wedding ceremonies and receptions
    • Funeral receptions
    • Workplaces – lifting work-from-home measures
    • Amusement parks
    • Indoor concerts and sporting events
    • Festivals, including arts and cultural festivals (indoor and outdoor)
    • Day camps and overnight camps
    • Further easing of some restrictions eased in Steps 1-3

Alberta’s government is responding to the COVID-19 pandemic by protecting lives and livelihoods with precise measures to bend the curve, sustain small businesses and protect Alberta’s health-care system.

 

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Alberta

Alberta’s Walker into Hearts semifinal with 9-8 win over Manitoba’s Jones

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CALGARY — Alberta’s Laura Walker advanced to the semifinal of the Canadian women’s curling championship with a 9-8 win over Manitoba’s Jennifer Jones in Sunday’s tiebreaker game.

Walker faces defending champion Kerri Einarson in an afternoon semifinal with the winner taking on Ontario’s Rachel Homan for the championship at night.

Jones missed an attempted double takeout in the 10th end, which left Walker an open draw to score three for the win in the tiebreaker.

Manitoba and Alberta were tied for third at 9-3 after the championship round, which required a tiebreaker game to solve.

Jones, a six-time champion at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts, was chasing a record seventh title.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 28, 2021.

The Canadian Press

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Alberta

Let ‘er buck: Study suggests horses learn from rodeo experience, grow calmer

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CALGARY — Rodeo fans love the thrill of a bronc exploding into the ring, cowboy temporarily aboard. How the horse feels about it hasn’t been so clear.

Newly published research out of the University of Calgary looks at three years of roughstock events from that city’s Stampede in an attempt to peer inside the mind of an animal about to let ‘er buck.

“I try to understand the animal’s perspective,” said Ed Pajor, a professor of veterinary medicine. “We asked the question whether or not horses find participating in the rodeo to be an adversive experience or not.”

Pajor and his co-authors — Christy Goldhawk from the University of Calgary and well-known animal behaviourist Temple Grandin — studied 116 horses in bareback, novice bareback, saddle bronc and novice saddle bronc events. They looked at animals about to be loaded into a trailer and taken to the ring. They also observed how the horses behaved while in the chute waiting to be unleashed.

Horses have all kinds of ways of showing they’re unhappy, Pajor said. They might move back and forth, chew their lips, swish their tail, defecate, roll their eyes, paw the ground, toss their head, or rear up in protest.

The researchers found that the more people were around them, the more likely the horses were to show unease. That’s probably because they spend most of their time in fields and pastures and aren’t used to the bustle, Pajor said.

The other factor that affected behaviour was experience. If it wasn’t their first rodeo, the horses were much less likely to act up.

“We didn’t see a lot of attempts to escape. We didn’t see a lot of fear-related behaviours at all,” Pajor said. “The animals were pretty calm.

“The animals that had little experience were much more reactive than the animals that had lots of experience.”

There could be different reasons for that, he suggested.

“We don’t know if that’s because they’re used to the situation or whether that’s because of learned helplessness — they realize there’s nothing they can do and just give up.”

Pajor suspects the former.

“When the cowboys came near the horses, they would certainly react and you wouldn’t really see that if it was learned helplessness.”

The researchers also noted that the horses’ bucking performance, as revealed in the score from the rodeo judges, didn’t seem to be reduced by repeated appearances as it might be if the animals had become apathetic.

That doesn’t necessarily mean the horses are having a good time, said Pajor, who’s also on the Stampede’s animal welfare advisory board. There are a couple of ways of interpreting active behaviour in the chute, he said.

“An animal might be getting excited to perform. Or an animal might be having a fear response.”

“Understanding if animals like to do something is a tricky thing to do.”

Pajor knows there are different camps when it comes to rodeos and animals.

“People have very strong opinions on the use of animals for all kinds of reasons. I think no matter what we’re going to use animals for, we really need to make sure that we treat them humanely.

“My job is to do the research to understand the animals’ perspective.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 28, 2021.

— By Bob Weber in Edmonton. Follow @row1960 on Twitter

The Canadian Press

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