Alberta and Newfoundland became the latest provinces on Thursday to release frameworks for how they would reopen their economies, but as the guidelines come out, many businesses, health practitioners and even cities are working to figure out how they will operate as restrictions put in place because of COVID-19 are lifted.
Manitoba’s largest city is scrambling to try and get amenities like playgrounds and golf courses ready to reopen on Monday, after a provincial plan set out a timeline for lifting restrictions.
“There is much more to reopening than simply reversing measures that we’ve put into place,” Mayor Brian Bowman said, as he asked Winnipeggers to be patient with the reopening process.
Retail shops and hair salons will also be allowed to reopen in Manitoba on Monday, but they’ll need a plan for how they are going to operate within the guidelines around hygiene and physical distancing.
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Ontario, which released a framework that focused on how the province would make decisions and not when it would reopen, on Thursday released specific guidance for businesses around what would be required to operate safely when they are allowed to open their doors.
“Today, we are telling our businesses how to be ready for when we get that green light,” Premier Doug Ford said.
As of 6 a.m. ET on Friday, Canada had 53,236 confirmed and presumptive coronavirus cases, with the majority concentrated in Ontario and Quebec. Provinces and territories list 21,437 of the cases as resolved or recovered. A CBC News tally of COVID-19-related deaths based on provincial data, regional health information and CBC’s reporting lists 3,279 deaths in Canada and two known coronavirus-related deaths of Canadians abroad.
Public health officials have cautioned that the recorded numbers are likely too low, noting that they fail to capture information on people who have not been tested or who are still under investigation as possible coronavirus cases. Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer, has urged people to behave as though there is coronavirus in their community, even if there haven’t been any recorded cases.
The novel coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or death. There is no proven treatment or vaccine for the virus, which first emerged in China in late 2019.
What’s happening in the provinces and territories
British Columbia’s top doctor says 12 more inmates at the medium-security prison in Mission have tested positive for COVID-19. Dr. Bonnie Henry also announced two more coronavirus-related deaths in B.C., bringing the provincial total to 111. Read more about what’s happening in B.C.
Albertans will have more space to roam outside beginning in early May after the province announced it is lifting some COVID-19 restrictions. Premier Jason Kenney said golf courses will open on Saturday (though pro shops and clubhouses will stay closed), followed by a broader opening of outdoor spaces in early May. Non-urgent medical services will be allowed to open Monday, with retail and businesses to follow later in the month. Read more about what’s happening in Alberta.
Premier Jason Kenney urged Albertans to use common sense as he laid out Alberta’s plans to attempt to relaunch parts of the economy during the <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/COVID19?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#COVID19</a> pandemic by mid-May. <a href=”https://t.co/8fZ54EedWA”>pic.twitter.com/8fZ54EedWA</a>
Saskatchewan’s premier put travel restrictions on a broad swath of the province’s far north to try and deal with a COVID-19 outbreak. People there are now facing a ban on travelling outside their home communities for anything other than essential trips for food or medical needs. Read more about what’s happening in Saskatchewan.
New rules kick in for Manitoba care homes today, limiting health-care workers to just one care home. Provincial health officials said Thursday that almost all of the province’s personal-care homes were ready for the rules to kick in. Read more about what’s happening in Manitoba.
An Ontario family is mourning after Arlene Reid, a 51-year-old personal support worker for VON in Peel Region, died after contracting COVID-19. Her daughter Shay-Ann Bryden said the family is dealing with grief and anger over the loss. “But at the same time, she lost her life taking care of people, and it’s something that she dedicated her life to doing. So she is a hero, and should be hailed as one.” Read more about what’s happening in Ontario.
In Quebec, Jewish General Hospital is facing a COVID-19 outbreak, but a spokesperson for the Montreal hospital said: “None of these events were triggered by sick health-care workers.” Read more about what’s happening in Quebec, which has recently announced a plan that would see it reopen primary schools, daycares, and many businesses this month.
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New Brunswick has now gone 12 days straight without a new case of COVID-19. The province’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Jennifer Russell, said of the total 118 cases so far, there are only four active cases and no one is in hospital. Russell cautioned there will be new cases in New Brunswick, but health officials are now more prepared for the next wave. Read more about what’s happening in N.B.
Nova Scotia’s top public health official, Dr. Robert Strang, is urging people in the province to “stay the course.” Nova Scotia reported 12 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, bringing the provincial total to 947 confirmed cases. The province has recorded 28 deaths related to COVID-19. Read more about what’s happening in N.S.
Prince Edward Island had no new cases of COVID-19 again on Thursday. “We’ve had one case in the last two weeks and a total of six cases for the month of April,” Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Heather Morrison said. Read more about what’s happening on P.E.I., including details of a plan to reopen some schools to students who normally receive support from youth service workers and educational assistants.
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Newfoundland and Labrador residents are now allowed to form two-household bubbles, a move introduced as part of the province’s broader reopening plan, which sets May 11 as a target date for the lifting of some restrictions, including around non-urgent medical care and low-risk outdoor activity. “We must remember that if any of our indicators show a worsening of our situation we can tighten those restrictions again, and we will not hesitate to do so,” Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Janice Fitzgerald said. Read more about what’s happening in N.L.
Nunavut reported its first case of COVID-19 on Thursday. Dr. Michael Patterson, chief public health officer in the territory, said the case was detected in Pond Inlet, and the person is in self-isolation. Nunavut had been the only remaining province or territory in Canada without a reported case of the novel coronavirus. Read more about what’s happening across the North.
What’s happening in the U.S.
From Reuters, updated at 6:45 a.m. ET
The White House let its two-week-old economic reopening guidelines expire on Thursday as half of all U.S. states forged ahead with their own strategies for easing restrictions on restaurants, retail and other businesses shuttered by the coronavirus crisis.
The enormous pressure on states to reopen, despite a lack of wide-scale virus testing and other safeguards urged by health experts, was highlighted in new Labor Department data showing some 30 million Americans have sought unemployment benefits since March 21.
Physical separation of people — by closing schools, businesses and other places of social gatherings — remains the chief weapon against a highly contagious respiratory virus with no vaccine and no cure.
But with economic pain reaching historic proportions, agitation to relax stay-at-home orders and mandatory workplace restrictions has mounted.
For the second time in two weeks, hundreds of protesters — including armed militia group members — thronged Michigan’s state capitol in Lansing demanding an end to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s stay-at-home orders.
The latest protest was sparked by the Democratic governor’s request, ignored by Republican lawmakers, to extend emergency powers she had invoked in a state hard hit by both the virus and closures to combat it.
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About two-dozen states, mostly in the South, the Midwest and mountain West, have moved to relax restrictions since Georgia led the way late last week. Texas and Florida, among others this week, outlined plans for doing so in the days ahead.
But no companies are required to reopen, and it was not clear how many business owners and their employees would return to work, and how many patrons would venture back into stores and restaurants.
The number of coronavirus cases is still climbing in many parts of the country, although peaks appear to have been reached in New York state, the epicentre of the U.S. outbreak, and other places.
Pennsylvania, Kansas, Wisconsin, Virginia, Arizona, Minnesota and Nebraska all reported a record number of new cases on Thursday, though greater testing could account for some of the increases, revealing infections already present but undetected.
Several states, including New Jersey, Texas, Massachusetts, Ohio, Indiana, West Virginia and New Mexico, posted new highs in their daily death tolls.
What’s happening around the world
From The Associated Press and Reuters, updated at 6:45 a.m. ET
As in much of the rest of Europe, Italy’s May Day traditions, which pay tribute to the role of workers in society, have been upended by lockdown rules forbidding gatherings during the coronavirus pandemic.
The heart and soul of Italy’s May Day commemoration have been rallies led by union leaders, followed by an evening of rock and pop music in Rome, drawing crowds sometimes topping 100,000 in the square outside St. John in Lateran Basilica. This year, musical artists will take turns performing solo in venues without anyone in the audience. Their music will be broadcast on TV and by state radio, with the evening’s theme being, “Working in safety to build a future.”
Unions have been demanding scrupulous attention to safety measures, including physical distancing at work stations and assembly lines, hygiene and sanitizing before factories can reopen in the country, where Europe’s devastating outbreak of COVID-19 began.
Spain’s government expects that the eurozone’s fourth-largest economy will shrink by 9.2 per cent this year and that unemployment will reach 19 per cent of the working-age population. Deputy Prime Minister Nadia Calvino announced the grim forecast on Friday when she explained Spain’s economic stability plan that it has presented to the European Union.
Russia registered almost 8,000 new coronavirus cases on Friday in yet another record daily spike, bringing the total to 114,431. The number of cases is likely to be much higher as not everyone gets tested, and tests in Russia were reported to be only 70 to 80 per cent accurate.
In at least five Russian regions, health officials registered a surge of pneumonia cases. In Moscow, which accounts for half of all virus cases, all respiratory infections are likely to be caused by the coronavirus, according to the public health agency Rospotrebnadzor.
Japan will formally decide as early as Monday whether to extend its state of emergency, which was originally set to end on May 6.
In China, Beijing’s parks and museums, including the ancient Forbidden City, reopened to the public after being closed for months by the coronavirus pandemic.
India has registered another daily high in coronavirus cases, with nearly 2,000 recorded in the past 24 hours. India’s Health Ministry said Friday the 1,993 new cases and 73 more deaths bring the country’s totals to 35,043 cases and 1,147 deaths.
The government is due to decide the future of its 40-day lockdown on Sunday. It allowed migrant workers and other stranded people to resume their journeys on Wednesday, as well as some shops to reopen and manufacturing and farming to resume.
A holiday atmosphere enlivened South Africa’s streets as the May Day public holiday is also when the country has begun easing its strict lockdown. For the first time in five weeks, people were permitted to walk outside for exercise between 6 a.m. and 9 a.m., and thousands, with mandated face masks and keeping distance, were out walking through the streets.
Some South Africans will be able to return to work in small batches and many businesses will resume limited operations. Many factories can resume operations in phases, starting with only a third of employees allowed to return, and they must abide by distancing and other guidelines.
Public transport, including trains and buses, will begin operating with a restricted number of passengers. Even with the easing, South Africa’s lockdown remains strict, with no sales of liquor and cigarettes permitted.
Brazil reported a record 7,218 cases in the last 24 hours and 435 additional fatalities. Peruvian authorities, meanwhile, closed a busy food market in Lima after mass rapid testing confirmed more than 160 positive cases.
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