EDMONTON - Premier Jason Kenney says his government will announce next week a date to cancel Alberta's COVID-19 vaccine passport, adding the end will be in the “very near future.”

Kenney says he will also announce a phased approach to end almost all COVID-19 health restrictions by the end of the month provided the pressure on hospitals continues to decline.

Kenney says Alberta's high vaccination rate coupled with declining pressure on hospitals make it feasible to end the vaccine passport soon.

A week ago, Kenney said the passport could be eliminated by the end of March.

But since then Kenney has come under increasing pressure from members of his own United Conservative caucus to end the passport while also dealing with vaccine mandate protests by truckers and supporters who have created chaos and traffic tie-ups at Alberta's main U.S. border checkpoint.

The truckers and some members of Kenney's caucus say the passport has served its purpose, unfairly infringes on individual rights, and must be cancelled.

The passport -- known in Alberta as a restriction exemption -- mandates anyone using non-essential services such as bars and restaurants show proof of vaccination.

Alberta's program is voluntary, but those businesses that do not participate are subject to restrictions, including severely reduced customer capacity.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 3, 2022.