Public Health Considerations for Gatherings, Events and Activities on Siksika

On June 25, 2021, Siksika Nation was in a position to ease COVID restrictions due to stability in case numbers of COVID-19 on the Nation, and immunization coverage. As a result, Siksika Nation Chief & Council passed a motion to lower the COVID-19 risk level on Siksika Nation from a YELLOW-moderate risk level to a GREEN-low risk level on the recommendation of Siksika’s Public Health Team.

Further to this, Siksika Health Services (SHS) recommends the implementation of the COVID-19 Reopening Plan for Siksika Nation (see infographic below), which outlines public health considerations for planning and attendance of gatherings, events, and activities on Siksika. The Reopening Plan expands on the guidance previously provided under the GREEN-low risk level status, based on collective community immunity level. The COVID-19 Reopening Plan has been approved by Siksika Health Services’ Board of Directors, and will be followed for SHS gatherings, events, and activities. SHS Public Health Team will follow the Reopening Plan in making recommendations for gatherings, events, activities organized by other groups.

(click anywhere on the infographic to expand the Reopening Plan)

COVID-19 cases and transmission will continue to be monitored, and Siksika Health Services COVID-19 Response Team will remain operational and make supports available for Nation members impacted by COVID-19. If required, progression from one level to the next may be paused, or it may be necessary to return to previous level in response to rising COVID-19 cases, and/or health resources capacity.

The Reopening Plan outlines considerations, not requirements, for Siksikawa to make informed choices to keep themselves and others safe as we make continued progress regarding the COVID-19 pandemic. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic response, Siksika Nation has continuously maintained stricter recommendations than Alberta because we have a higher risk of severe consequences in Siksika due to living circumstances, overcrowding, and the high prevalence of chronic conditions.Despite the easing of restrictions across Alberta, Siksika’s Public Health team reminds us that COVID-19 and associated risks have not been resolved completely, and that these risks are more pronounced for certain populations:

  • Unvaccinated individuals – eligible individuals who are not yet vaccinated have not built up immunity to coronavirus from a vaccine.
  • Children under the age of 12 – a COVID vaccine has not yet been approved in Canada for this population. As a result, this age group does not yet have access to the immunity to coronavirus from a vaccine.
  • Immunocompromised – those with weakened immune systems have a reduced ability to fight infections and other diseases.

*Fully immunized – is defined as two full weeks (14 days) after receiving a second dose of COVID vaccine.

Summary of the Considerations Outlined in the Reopening Plan:

Gatherings – welcomed! See Reopening Plan for recommended number of attendees based on gathering type and community immunity level:

  • Outdoor and indoor gatherings;
  • Organized and private gatherings;
  • Sporting events and activities;
  • Cultural events (indoor and outdoor);
  • Funerals/wakes.

Organizations, Offices & Workplaces – open for business! See Reopening Plan for recommended maximum occupancies for gatherings, meetings:

  • Businesses remain open;
  • Schools remain open (as applicable).

Public Health Measures:

  • People with illness symptoms and close contacts of COVID-19 cases advised to stay home and get tested for COVID-19.
  • Isolation requirements for confirmed COVID cases, and for symptomatic individuals remain in place at this time, until at least Sept. 27.
  • Mandatory mask use in Siksika Nation-owned buildings determined by facility owner/manager.
  • Screening or self-screening for COVID-19 symptoms and exposure in Siksika Nation-owned buildings determined by facility owner/manager.
  • Gatherings for people not fully immunized: physical distancing and masks recommended.
  • Gatherings for fully immunized people: masks and physical distancing not required around other fully immunized people.

Additional COVID-19 Precautions** (not required – for consideration and use by those who choose to continue implementing additional public health measures):

  • Keep physical distance (at least 2 metres) from others who are not in your household/cohort;
  • Wear a mask when physical distancing is not possible, especially indoors;
  • Wash or sanitize hands regularly, especially after touching commonly touched surfaces;
  • Clean and disinfect commonly touched surfaces often;
  • Refrain from sharing food/drinks, and avoid using common serving utensils for food/drinks;
  • Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue or your elbow;
  • Avoid non-essential travel outside Siksika.

**Siksikawa are encouraged to consider these additional measures for gatherings that are larger than those recommended.

Siksika Health Services and Siksika Nation continue to take strong proactive measures in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, considering Siksika’s specific context, in the interest of protecting our Nation members. Siksika continues to provide a very high level of service for testing, contact tracing and support for those isolating, including mental health, food security, access to health services and isolation options, compared to any jurisdiction in Alberta.