CALGARY -- Because of high numbers of COVID-19 cases in Calgary and Brooks, restaurants, bars and pubs in those two cities won't reopen until May 25, more than a week after the rest of the province.

Alberta is lifting some health restrictions in Phase One of its relaunch strategy on Thursday, meaning restaurants, bars, retail stores, museums and art galleries and hair salons can reopen with restrictions on capacity and social distancing.

In Calgary and Brooks, places like retail stores, clothing, furniture and books stores, farmer's markets, museums and art galleries and daycares will be able to open on Thursday, but restaurants, bars, pubs and cafes will reopen 11 days later, on May 25, and they will operate at 50 per cent capacity. Hair salons and barbershops will also reopen on May 25 in Calgary and Brooks.

"We didn't take this decision lightly," said Premier Jason Kenney. "Our fight against COVID is going in the right direction across the province and in Calgary and Brooks. And barring an unforseen spike in new cases or hospitalizations, we should be able to stick to this slightly more gradual schedule."

Calgary currently accounts for 68 per cent of confirmed cases in the province.

Brooks, located about 210 kilometres southeast of Calgary, had 200 active cases on Tuesday, which is one of the highest rates in the province. It's also home to the JBS Foods meat packing plant, which is currently experiencing an outbreak, with 44 active cases reported on Tuesday.

A high number of transmissions in both cities have been from community spread, said Kenney, meaning health officials aren't able to trace the contact.

Gatherings in the province will continue to be limited to a maximum of 15 people, a measure that will remain over the summer. All public events in Calgary have been cancelled until Aug. 31. Albertans are encouraged to remain at least two metres away from other people when in public and to wear a mask when distancing isn't possible.

As of Wednesday there are 6,287 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Alberta, with 5,076 of those considered recovered. There have been 118 deaths attributed to the virus.

Between May 11 and 18, anyone in the Calgary Health Zone is able to get tested for the virus, however there is a daily limit of 1,000 for asymptomatic people.

Residents are encouraged to visit the province's online self assessment tool.