It’s been just over two years since Alberta logged its first case of COVID-19. Here are some of the most significant moments over the course of the pandemic in the province.
2020: Lockdown and relaunch
March 5: Alberta identifies its first presumptive COVID-19 case, a Calgary woman returning from a California cruise.
March 11: The World Health Organization declares COVID-19 a pandemic, while Alberta begins to recommend against out-of-country travel. The following day, Alberta bans gatherings of more than 250 people.
March 15: Calgary is among Alberta cities to declare a state of local emergency, closing most non-essential businesses and services. Alberta cancels all school classes and declares a provincial public health state of emergency the following day.
March 19: Alberta records its first COVID-19 death, an Edmonton man in his 60s. The province’s case count rises to 146, the majority of which originated through out-of-country travel.
March 31: A third resident of the McKenzie Towne Continuing Care Centre dies of COVID-19. An outbreak at the facility would go on to claim the lives of 19 residents.
April 6: Alberta chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw recommends the use of non-medical face masks when physical distancing is difficult. Modelling suggests a mid-May peak for COVID-19 in Alberta, with around 800,000 total cases in the province. Twenty-four Albertans have died of the virus, with almost 1,350 infections.
April 20: The Cargill meat-packing plant in High River temporarily closes down amid a COVID-19 outbreak. The outbreak would become the largest in Alberta, linked to more than 1,500 case and three deaths. Meanwhile, the JBS meat-processing plant in Brooks would record more than 650 cases.
April 23: The Calgary Stampede cancels its 2020 event, the first time the show didn’t go on since it became an annual tradition in 1923, as Hinshaw restricts gatherings of more than 15 people. The 319 new cases reported stands as Alberta’s highest single-day tally. There are 3,720 total cases in the province, with 68 deaths.
May 3: Alberta records fewer than 100 cases of COVID-19 for the first time since mid-April, signalling the end of the province’s first wave of the virus.
May 13: Alberta enters Stage 1 of its COVID-19 relaunch, letting businesses like restaurants and retailers reopen, but Calgary and Brooks are singled out of the relaunch due to ongoing meat-plant outbreaks. Both municipalities are allowed to join in the relaunch May 25.
June 5: Alberta records only seven new COVID-19 cases while also conducting its highest number of tests to date. Hinshaw lauds the efforts of Albertans to flatten the curve. The province has almost 7,100 virus cases and 151 deaths.
June 12: Stage 2 of Alberta’s relaunch begins a week ahead of schedule, with businesses like massage clinics, theatres and libraries allowed to reopen. Calgary’s local state of emergency expires after three months, with Alberta following on June 16.
July 11: Edmonton is named as one of two NHL hub cities. The ‘bubble’ approach is a success, with zero COVID-19 cases detected among players and staff who travel to the city for the playoffs.
July 21: Alberta announces schools will reopen in September with added safety measures. Meanwhile, Calgary makes mask use mandatory in indoor public spaces effective Aug. 1 as COVID-19 case counts begin to surge, with nearly 10,000 confirmed cases and 202 deaths.
July 30: Serology testing suggests nearly 36,000 Albertans had COVID-19 by mid-May, far higher than official counts. Hinshaw urges mask use but Alberta does not introduce a mandate.
Aug. 4: Alberta mandates mask use for its back-to-school plan for students in grades 4 to 12. The Calgary Board of Education and Calgary Catholic School District both soon expand that mandate to include all students.
Aug. 20: COVID-19 cases continue to rise in Alberta, with the Edmonton region responsible for much of the increase. Hinshaw suggests young people and indoor gatherings are driving the spread.
Sept. 1: Calgary students head back to school amid anxiety surrounding plans to combat the pandemic in the classroom.
Sept. 9: Henry Wise Wood High School becomes Calgary’s first school with an outbreak of COVID-19, only about a week after students returned to in-person learning.
Sept. 21: Alberta Health Services staff work to contain multiple COVID-19 outbreaks at Foothills Medical Centre. Over the coming months, the outbreaks would infect 95 and kill 12.
Oct. 8: “Voluntary” COVID-19 restrictions come to the AHS Edmonton zone amid a surge in infections. Calgary is spared from the new measures.
Oct. 12: Albertans celebrate Thanksgiving. The holiday is later cited as an inflection point in the pandemic’s second wave, with family gatherings driving viral spread.
Oct. 20: Influenza shots become available at Calgary pharmacies as officials worry about the flu season could coincide with a second wave of COVID-19. The province has yet to find a single case of seasonal influenza.
Oct. 26: Alberta imposes a mandatory 15-person limit on social gatherings for Calgary.
Nov. 1: Infection rates skyrocket at the Calgary Correctional Centre. The prison would see more than 150 cases during the second wave, while the nearby Calgary Remand Centre logged nearly 350 infections.
Nov. 5: Alberta’s contact tracing system is overwhelmed by surging case counts. The system doesn’t recover until February.
Nov. 12: Hundreds of Alberta doctors sign a letter urging the province to enter a circuit-breaker lockdown to curb the second wave. Restaurants and bars face tighter restrictions, including an earlier last call for alcohol, but the province stops short of more strict restrictions.
Nov. 24: After weeks of mounting COVID-19 cases, Alberta announces new restrictions, banning social gatherings, closing high schools and limited attendance at places of worship.
Dec. 5: Alberta logs 1,879 cases of the coronavirus, the most ever in a single day. The peak in active cases would come a week later, when 21,135 infections were active.
Dec. 8: Lockdown-style restrictions come to Alberta, with many businesses forced to close and all indoor and outdoor social gatherings banned.
Dec. 15: Long-term care residents receive the first doses of COVID-19 vaccine in Alberta, the Pfizer-BioNTech jab. Moderna’s vaccine would be approved later in the month.
Dec. 24: Alberta reports its first case of a variant strain of the coronavirus thought to be more contagious. The B.1.1.7 strain, first detected in the United Kingdom, was found in a sample from Dec. 15.
Dec. 28: A grim milestone is hit as Alberta passes 1,000 deaths from COVID-19. Nearly half those deaths came in December alone.
Dec. 31: UCP Minister Tracy Allard is reported to have vacationed in Hawaii, contradicting her own government’s advisories. Over the next week, eight more government officials will be found to have left the country over the holidays, facing sanctions following public pressure.
2021: The drive to vaccinate
Jan. 8: More medical workers are made eligible for immunization. Those in COVID-19 and emergency units are among those who can get the jab.
Jan. 14: Alberta eases restrictions for outdoor gatherings and allows personal services businesses to reopen as case counts slowly decline.
Jan. 18: Premier Jason Kenney says Alberta will run out of vaccine as Pfizer shipments to Canada halt. Some first dose appointments are postponed the next day.
Jan. 29: Alberta announces it will ease some restrictions on restaurants, indoor fitness and kids’ sport on Feb. 8.
Feb. 3: Hinshaw boasts that Alberta has “bent the curve” amid falling case counts. Fifty variant cases have been found.
Feb. 5: A worker dies of COVID-19 at the Olymel pork slaughterhouse in Red Deer. The ongoing outbreak has seen four deaths and more than 500 cases at the site, which temporarily closed Feb. 16.
Feb. 24: Vaccine appointments open to those born in 1946 or earlier. Technical problems cause headaches, but more than 50,000 seniors book slots, with some getting immunized the same day.
Feb. 26: Health Canada regulators approve the AstraZeneca vaccine. Health Minister Tyler Shandro anticipates Alberta will receive more 55,000-plus doses the following week, with those 65-plus not receiving the vaccine.
March 1: Gyms and libraries are allowed to reopen in Alberta. Other businesses are left out of the plans.
March 8: After a week delay due to rising case numbers, former Health Minister Tyler Shandro announced Alberta will enter the second step of its economic relaunch plan.
March 10: AstraZeneca vaccine booking opens in Alberta.
April 3: Canada surpasses one million cases.
April 6: Premier Jason Kenney announced the province will reintroduce restrictions on restaurants, fitness centres and retail due to spiking variant cases and hospitalizations.
April 7: While Alberta doctors say the latest restrictions imposed were not enough, 16 UPC MLAs released a public letter saying the restrictions moved the province “backwards.”
April 29: Alberta sets daily active COVID case records as government tightens restrictions, Kenney also threatened possibly implementing curfews if cases continued to rise.
May 4: With more than 23,000 active cases in Alberta and the highest case rate per population in Canada, Kenney announced a new set of restrictions which included K-12 students moving online, restaurants moving to takeout service only, closure of personal care businesses, and capacity restrictions on outdoor social gatherings, places of worship, and funerals.
May 18: Kenney announces more than 50 per cent of Albertans aged 12 and over have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.
May 26: Kenney announces the controversial three-stage Open For Summer plan, and says all restrictions could be lifted in Alberta by July.
June 18: With over 70 per cent of eligible Albertans receiving at least one dose of vaccine, Kenney announced all restrictions would be lifted on July 1.
July 1: Rules around indoor and outdoor social gatherings, capacity limits in businesses and other venues, recreation, large events like concerts or sports and other settings were lifted.
July 5: A Calgary city council vote went 10-4 in favour of rescinding its mandatory masking rules.
July 6: Popular Calgary Stampede establishment Nashville North announces attendees will need to show proof of at least one does of vaccination or a rapid test to gain entry.
July 9: The Calgary Stampede returns after having cancelled the previous year due to COVID-19.
July 12: While Manitoba and Quebec had announced vaccine passport programs, Kenney says Alberta will not move in that direction.
July 28: Although cases continued to rise in Alberta, Dr. Hinshaw announced starting Aug. 16, provincial masking would no longer be required for transit, taxis and rideshares. It continued to be recommended in schools.
Aug. 9: With concerns mounting regarding the Delta variant, the Alberta Medical Association Section of Pediatrics penned a letter to Kenney, pleading with the province to keep public health measures in place.
Aug. 13: Due to public pressure and rising case counts, the provincial government announced it would be taking a step back from lifting public health measures, and instead keeping them in place for an additional six weeks.
Sept. 1: During a Q&A marking his first appearance since Aug. 9, Kenney says the coming fourth wave will be a “wave of the unvaccinated.” He said if the province, which lagged behind most in Canada in terms of vaccination, had 90 per cent vaccine coverage there would not be meaningful pressure on the health-care system.
Sept. 3: Kenney offers $100 gift cards for Albertans who aren’t vaccinated. Calgary restores its mask bylaw and declares a state of local emergency as case counts ramp up.
Sept. 12: About 200 protestors showed up to the Foothills Medical Centre to rally against vaccination policies in the province.
Sept. 15: Kenney declares a state of public health emergency in Alberta, and introduces a number of new restrictions. He also announced the implementation of a vaccine passport program – also known as the Restriction Exemption Program.
Sept. 20: Pfizer announces its vaccine works for children aged five to 11 and that it will also seek U.S. authorization for this age group soon.
Sept. 21: Premier Jason Kenney shuffles his cabinet, taking the health portfolio away from Tyler Shandro and giving it to Jason Copping.
Sept 28: Cases in children reach a record high not seen since during the pandemic. A seven-day average shows 68 cases per 100,000 for those aged 5 to 11.
Oct. 5: Alberta rolls out its first COVID-19 vaccine booster shots for the general public, with seniors over the age of 75, and First Nations, Inuit and Métis over the age of 65 eligible for a booster.
Oct. 14: The United States announces it will lift restrictions at its land borders with Canada and Mexico for fully vaccinated foreign nationals in early November. The land-border closures had been in place since March 2020.
Oct. 20: Alberta records its 3,000th death from COVID-19 since the beginning of the pandemic.
Oct. 28: The province announces that support workers from the Canadian Red Cross, Canadian Armed Forces and the province of Newfoundland and Labrador are no longer needed, about one month after it was announced they would assist in the province’s strained hospitals.
Nov. 4: The province’s health minister reveals Alberta cancelled an estimated 15,000 surgeries as it scrambled to preserve health-care capacity during the fourth wave of COVID-19.
Nov. 8: The U.S. land border fully reopens for those who are fully vaccinated. It was the first time in 597 days Canadians could drive into the United States for non-essential travel.
Nov. 12: Premier Jason Kenney says the province has a 5,000-dose supply of the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine available to those who want a non-mRNA vaccine.
Nov. 16: Dr. Deena Hinshaw warns that Alberta may see a fifth wave as a steep decline in cases beings to level off.
Nov. 24: Vaccine bookings for Alberta children aged 5-11 opens, with the first appointments taking place just two days later.
Nov. 25: Scientists announce they’ve detected a new variant of COVID-19 in South Africa with unusual mutations. The variant is named Omicron.
Nov. 30: The Omicron COVID-19 variant is confirmed in Alberta after a person travelling back from Nigeria and the Netherlands tests positive.
Dec. 12: Six players and one staffer from the Calgary Flames enter the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol after they test positive for COVID-19.
Dec. 15: Premier Jason Kenney announces rapid COVID-19 antigen tests will be made available to Albertans as the province also lifts some restrictions around indoor gatherings.
Dec. 21: Alberta opens up its booster shots to anyone aged 18 or older and announces capacity limits on certain indoor venues, as well as restricted liquor serving hours in an attempt to bring down rapidly rising COVID-19 cases brought on by the Omicron variant.
Dec. 29: The World Junior Hockey Championship being hosted in Red Deer and Edmonton is cancelled due to spiking COVID-19 cases.
Dec. 30: Alberta Education Minister Adriana LaGrange announced students’ winter break will be extended until Jan. 10.
2022: The end of restrictions
Jan. 7: Alberta delivers its one millionth booster shot in the fight against COVID-19.
Jan. 14: Six Alberta universities choose to extend online classes until at least the end of February due to Omicron.
Jan. 17: Health Minister Jason Copping tests positive fro COVID-19 as the number of hospitalizations for the virus top 1,000.
Jan. 25: Health Minister Jason Copping announces an initial shipment of Pfizer’s COVID-19 anti-viral drug Paxlovid has arrived in the province, with 3,200 courses of treatment available to eligible Albertans beginning Jan. 31.
Jan. 28: A convoy of truckers rolls into Ottawa and sets up a protest against vaccine mandates and other health measures in that city’s downtown.
Jan. 29: Truck drivers and other protesters set up a blockade at Alberta’s Coutts border crossing with the U.S.
Feb. 9: Premier Jason Kenney announces the vaccine passport program, known officially as the Restrictions Exemption Program, will end at midnight. He also announces plans to end other health restrictions such as capacity limits in smaller venues in the following days.
Feb. 14: Students in Alberta are no longer required to wear masks. Also, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau invokes the Emergencies Act over an ongoing protest in the nation’s capital by truckers and others opposed to health restrictions.
Feb. 15: Protesters at the Coutts border blockade pack up and head for home, one day after RCMP seized illegal weapons and arrested 13 people.
Feb. 19: The country’s top doctor Theresa Tam says Canada is past the peak of the COVID-19 wave caused by the Omicron variant and is ready to move out of a crisis response.
Mach 1: Most health restrictions are lifted in Alberta, with the exception of certain health care settings. Premier Jason Kenney says any attempt by municipalities to bring in their own health restrictions will be blocked by the province.