CALGARY -- Starting Monday, some Alberta businesses who were forced to shut down in December will be allowed to serve customers once more on a limited basis, the province announced Thursday.

The Alberta government says, on Jan. 18, personal and wellness services will be able to do business by appointment only.

The appointments are limited to one-on-one services and include things such as:

  • Hair salons;
  • Barbershops;
  • Esthetics;
  • Manicure and pedicure businesses;
  • Reflexology and;
  • Piercing and tattoo shops.

As well, outdoor social gatherings are allowed up to 10 people and funerals will now be able to safely include up to 20 people.

All of the additional health measures, including physical distancing and mandatory mask wearing, must still be followed.

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In a release, Premier Jason Kenney said the change is "thanks to the efforts of Albertans over the past few weeks."

"We need to be careful that we don’t reduce too early and risk the steady improvements we’ve made since November. We want to ensure the safety of Albertans, while balancing the uncertainty faced by Alberta businesses and service providers."

Alberta's Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw says January's cases are also trending downwards, which is a good sign for the province.

"Our trend today is very different than it was in December. Our trend in December was escalating quickly, and our trend today is coming down in a reassuring way. This is not a guarantee of the future though of course, our future will depend on Albertans remaining responsible and those businesses that are currently opening doing so, following all of the public health measures."

The changes will need to be done slowly, Hinshaw says, so that health officials can monitor their impacts on case numbers.

She says it's also important for businesses that are allowed to offer limited services to follow all the other rules in place to help keep cases from rising.

Health Minister Tyler Shandro says the choice to offer limited opening to businesses was a result of a review of the data.

"We looked at the data, we looked at the metrics on how to provide government with a mechanism for them to be able to make those decisions," he said. "So we developed those metrics for them to be able to make that informed decision."

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It's also important to move slowly with loosening restrictions in order to not to over-stress Alberta's health-care system, Shandro said.

"We have to continue to look at our hospitalizations and ICU admissions and make sure that Albertans are getting the critical care that they need during the pandemic. That's got to be our main focus."

Whether or not Albertans could see any further loosening of the rules depends on a number of factors, Hinshaw said.

"This is our opportunity to give Albertans, a little bit more freedom and the ability to do a few more activities in a safe way. And we are going to be able to then consider going forward, whether or not we can ease a few more measures," Hinshaw said.

"This really is up to all of us to be able to meet those stepwise levels."

The announcement did not include any allowance for dine-in services at restaurants and pubs in Alberta.