With Alberta “open for summer,” people are adjusting to post-public health restriction life with some enjoying certain freedoms while others remain cautious.

As of July 1st, the province officially lifted all restrictions after hitting the benchmark of 70 per cent of Albertans receiving their first vaccination. For some, it’s a return to what life was like before the COVID-19 pandemic restricted gatherings and had people wearing masks. But even with the province’s decision, some are choosing to continue with public health guidelines.

Chelsea Howell-Fellows, an employee at Aerie in CrossIron Mills mall, says she has seen some individuals still choosing to wear masks, noting it is about 50/50. 

When all restrictions were lifted, Howell-Fellows says it felt like a big jump from even just the day before.

“It was a really big difference from, like, June 30th. We had greeters at the door and everyone had to sanitize before they came in. You had to make sure everyone was wearing a mask and then the very next day, Canada Day, it was, like, just so many people,” says Howell-Fellows. 

“It was just really stressful and a really big jump.”

Restrictions around occupancy and capacity outlined by the government were a way of ensuring physical distancing through the pandemic. Howell-Fellows says for her location they jumped from a maximum of 10 customers to their firecode allowance, which is roughly 30, overnight.

That is just one of the reasons why Kathleen Celis has decided for the time being to continue to wear a mask.

“As long as I follow what I think for myself is safe then I think [I will be safe],” says Celis.

Others, like real estate agent and Mount Royal University student Parker Galesloot, have chosen to take full advantage of restrictions being lifted. Being double vaccinated, he says that he feels safe removing his mask and going out to clubs and bars again.

“I feel, like, super confident, you know. Even the numbers show that [cases] are all going down, so that gives me a lot of confidence, and also the number of people getting vaccinated gives me confidence and makes me happy,” says Galesloot. 

Galesloot says removing the masks makes work easier as he can connect with his clients in a way he couldn’t before. He adds the atmosphere he has experienced in the province since July 1st has made him happy.

“The energy is just so exciting and uplifting and that’s one thing I’ve loved. Just being able to get out there and see everyone again and go out with your friends.”

​​For Anya Stewart, the lifting of restrictions has allowed her to start going out again and has brought a bit of normality back to her day to day,

“Me personally, I love it. I think it’s the best thing in the world because we can actually go out and do stuff. We’re back to, whatever, a ‘normal life,’” says Stewart.

For those of her friends and family who are still hesitant, she tries to find ways to best accommodate their feelings and opts for more outdoor-based options.

Stewart says she is excited to be able to enjoy live music and concerts again for the first time in nearly two years and for the time being is not going to let the thought of COVID bring her down.

“For right now I’m not really worried. I am just trying to live in the present,” says Stewart. “It’s obviously a thought in my mind but I just feel like you can’t manifest that, you got to think about good outcomes.”

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