Provinces have been releasing plans for easing restrictions that were put in place to limit the spread of COVID-19.
Here is what some of the provinces have announced so far:
Newfoundland and Labrador
Newfoundland and Labrador plans to loosen some public health restrictions in a series of "alert levels" descending from five. The move to Level 4 today is to allow some medical procedures to resume as well as low-risk activities, such as golf, hunting and fishing. Low-risk businesses, including garden centres, and professional services such as law firms are to reopen at this level. Alert Level 4 is to remain in place for at least 28 days. At Level 3, private health clinics, such as optometrists and dentists, are to be permitted to open, as well as medium-risk businesses such as clothing stores and hair salons. At Level 2, some small gatherings will be allowed, and businesses with performance spaces and gyms are to reopen. Level 1 would represent "the new normal." Legislators, meanwhile, have passed a bill giving peace officers' the power to transport people who fail to respect health directives to departure points from the province. The amendment to the Public Health Protection and Promotion Act followed the implementation of a travel ban barring anyone but permanent residents and asymptomatic workers in key sectors from entering the province.
Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil announced last week that there will be no return to school this year. He also said a decision on whether daycares will reopen will be made by June 8. Nova Scotia has eased some public health restrictions, however, directives around physical distancing and social gatherings remain in place. Trails and provincial and municipal parks can now reopen, but playground equipment will continue to be off limits. Garden centres, nurseries and similar businesses can open, and while golf driving ranges can open, courses will remain closed. Sportfishing is permitted and people can attend boating, yacht or sailing clubs for the purpose of preparing boats for use. Drive-in religious services will be allowed, as long as people stay in their cars, they are parked two metres apart and there are no interactions between people.
Prince Edward Island
Members of a household can now gather indoors with up to five other people. Other precautions, such as physical distancing remain in place. Screening also continues at points of entry into the province and all people coming into P.E.I. are required to isolate for 14 days. Priority non-urgent surgeries and select health-service providers, including physiotherapists, optometrists and chiropractors, resumed on May 1 under The Renew P.E.I. Together plan. The plan also allows outdoor gatherings and non-contact outdoor recreational activities of no more than five individuals from different households.
New Brunswick is allowing more businesses and services to open as it launches the second phase of its COVID-19 recovery plan. Daycares, retail businesses, offices, restaurants, libraries, museums, seasonal campgrounds and ATV trails can now reopen under certain conditions. The conditions include having an operational plan that explains how they're meeting public health guidelines including physical distancing, hand hygiene and allowing staff to remain home when ill. Two-household "bubbles" remain in place, but now outdoor gatherings of up to 10 people are allowed if physical distancing is respected. The resumption of elective surgeries is also part of phase two. The third phase will allow regular church services, dentistry work and reopened fitness centres. The final phase, which will probably come only after a vaccine is available, will include large gatherings. Phase one, which started on April 24 allowed limited play on golf courses as well as fishing and hunting. Post-secondary students were allowed to return if it was deemed safe by the school, and outdoor church services were again permitted, providing people remain in their vehicles and are two metres apart.
Quebec is reopening elementary schools and day cares outside the Montreal area today. Students will be subject to physical distancing and frequent handwashing while school officials keep up with cleaning, disinfecting and following public health guidelines. Libraries, gyms and cafeterias will also remain closed. Attendance isn't mandatory, and some school boards have indicated that most parents are keeping their kids home for now. Schools in the Montreal area, for their part, will remain closed until at least May 25, while high schools and junior colleges won't be back until the fall. Quebec is also reopening retail stores outside Montreal today while those in the greater Montreal region are to reopen May 25. Premier Francois Legault says the province will keep close tabs on the situation in the city before deciding whether stores, daycares and elementary schools can reopen later this month. Quebec's construction industry is to completely start back up today, while manufacturing companies are also resuming operations with initial limits on the number of employees who can work per shift. Lottery terminals in the province have also begun to reopen after being shut down on March 20 with sales moving to online only.
Ontario is allowing non-essential retail stores to open for curbside pickup today. Garden centres and nurseries were allowed to reopen on May 8, while hardware stores and safety supply stores could reopen on May 10. Those stores must follow the same public health measures as grocery stores and pharmacies do, such as physical distancing, offering contactless payment and sanitizing surfaces. Provincial parks will reopen today, though camping grounds, beaches and playgrounds inside the parks will remain closed. Premier Doug Ford says visitors must continue physical distancing and he wants people to only visit parks that are local to them. Ontario has extended its emergency orders, which include a ban on public gatherings of more than five people and the closure of bars and restaurants except for take-out and delivery. Libraries, theatres and concert venues, as well as outdoor amenities such as playgrounds, and most child care centres also remain closed. The province has separately announced that publicly funded schools will be closed until at least May 31. Ontario liquor stores are expanding store hours that were reduced in March, rolling out earlier opening and later closing times in stages until they apply to all stores in the first week of June.
The Saskatchewan government's five-phase plan to reopen parts of its economy started earlier this month with dentists, optometrists and other health professionals being allowed to resume services. Phase 1 also includes reopened golf courses and campgrounds. Phase 2 will give the green light to retail businesses and salons. Restaurants and gyms could open in Phase 3, but with limited capacity. Phase 4 could see arenas, swimming pools and playgrounds opening. In Phase 5, the province would consider lifting restrictions on the size of public gatherings.
The Manitoba government is lifting its one-month limit on people's prescription drug supplies. Starting today, people will be able to get prescriptions filled or refilled for 90 days, which was the previous limit. Last Monday Manitoba allowed health offices, including dentists, chiropractors and physiotherapists to reopen. Retail businesses were allowed to reopen at half occupancy as long as they ensure physical spacing. Restaurants could reopen patios and walk-up service. Museums and libraries also reopened, but with occupancy limited to 50 per cent. Playgrounds, golf courses and tennis courts reopened as well, along with parks and campgrounds. A second phase is to begin no earlier than June 1. That's when restaurants would be allowed to open indoor dining areas and non-contact children's sports would resume. Mass gatherings such as concerts and major sporting events will not be considered before September.
Alberta will allow some scheduled, non-urgent surgeries to resume today. Service provided by dentists, physiotherapists and other medical professionals will also be permitted. Golf courses reopened May 2, though pro shops and clubhouses remain shuttered. On May 14, retail businesses, such as clothing, furniture and bookstores, will be allowed to reopen gradually. Cafes and restaurants with no bar service will also be allowed to run at half capacity. The second phase also includes potential kindergarten to Grade 12 classes — with restrictions — and the reopening of movie theatres and theatres, again, with restrictions. The third phase would see nightclubs, gyms, pools, recreation centres and arenas reopen, all with restrictions. There is no timeline for the final two phases.
The province is phasing in the reopening of its economy with certain health services, retail outlets, restaurants, salons and museums resuming some operations in mid-May. All of the government's reopening plans are contingent on organizations and businesses developing plans that follow provincial guidelines to control the spread of COVID-19. Hotels, resorts and parks will follow in June. A mix of online and classroom post-secondary education is planned for September, along with classes returning for students in kindergarten to Grade 12. Conventions, large concerts, international tourism and professional sports with a live audience will not be allowed to resume until either a vaccine is widely available, community immunity has been reached, or effective treatment can be provided for the disease.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 11, 2020
The Canadian Press