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A look at how provinces plan to emerge from COVID-19 shutdown


May 15, 2020
By The Canadian Press

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Photo: PAPA WOR/Shutterstock

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 lifted some of the public health restrictions imposed to slow the spread of COVID-19 on Monday. The province is entering “alert level four” in its five-level reopening plan, allowing some businesses such as law firms and other professional services to reopen along with regulated child-care centres, with some restrictions. Small gatherings for funerals, burials and weddings are also permitted with a limit of 10 people following physical distancing rules.

Municipal parks, golf courses and driving ranges can open and recreational hunting and fishing are permitted. Officials are reminding people that the new rules do not allow for parties or other social gatherings.

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The province is loosening restrictions in a series of “alert levels” descending from five. The current alert level 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.”

Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil announced last Friday 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

New Brunswick’s education minister says licensed daycares can begin reopening May 19. Children won’t have to wear masks or maintain physical distancing, but they will be in small groups. Anyone who has travelled outside of New Brunswick will not be allowed to visit early learning and child-care facilities for 14 days. New Brunswick has allowed more businesses and services to open.

Retail businesses, offices, restaurants, libraries, museums and seasonal campgrounds can reopen under certain conditions.

Those include having an operational plan that explains how they are meeting public health guidelines including physical distancing, hand hygiene and allowing staff to remain home when ill. Outdoor gatherings of up to 10 people are also allowed if physical distancing is respected. The resumption of elective surgeries is also part of the province’s phase two of its reopening plan.

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

Quebec reopened retail stores outside Montreal on Monday. Lottery terminals have begun to reopen after being shut down on March 20 with sales moving to online only.

Schools and daycares outside Montreal also reopened on Monday, but schools, junior colleges and universities are to stay closed until September. Quebec’s construction industry has been opened and manufacturing resumed operations with limits on the total number of employees who can work per shift.

Elementary schools in the greater Montreal area will remain closed until late August.

Premier Francois Legault says public health conditions haven’t been met in the area hardest hit by the novel coronavirus, so Montreal daycares will also remain closed until at least June 1. Officials haven’t made a firm decision about what to do with retail businesses, scheduled to reopen May 25.

Ontario

Ontario is set enter its first stage of reopening next May 19 including lifting restrictions on retail stores and surgeries.

The province said workplaces can begin to reopen, but working from home should continue as much as possible.

All construction can resume and limits will be lifted on maintenance, repair and property management services, such as cleaning, painting and pool maintenance. Most retail stores that have a street entrance can open with physical distancing restrictions, such as limits on the number of customers in a store, booking appointments and continuing to provide curbside pickup and delivery.

On Saturday, golf courses can reopen though clubhouses can only open for washrooms and take-out food. Marinas, boat clubs and public boat launches can open Saturday, as can private parks and campgrounds for trailers and RVs whose owners have a full season contract, and businesses that board animals.

Other businesses and services included in the stage one reopening include regular veterinary appointments, pet grooming, pet sitting and pet training; libraries for pickup or deliveries; and housekeepers and babysitters. Ontario has previously announced that publicly funded schools will be closed until at least May 31.

Saskatchewan

The Saskatchewan government’s five-phase plan to reopen parts of its economy started Monday 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.

Manitoba

The Manitoba government is lifting its one-month limit on people’s prescription drug supplies. As of Monday, 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

Alberta allowed stores, restaurants, daycares and hair salons to reopen across much of the province Thursday.

But hair salons and restaurant dining rooms will reopen in Calgary and Brooks on May 25. Restaurants can only open at half capacity and a 15-person limit on public gatherings remains in force. Premier Jason Kenney says if the first stage of reopening goes well, the next phase — which includes movie theatres and spas — could go ahead on June 19.

Alberta allowed some scheduled, non-urgent surgeries to start Monday. Service provided by dentists, physiotherapists and other medical professionals are also to be permitted. Golf courses reopened May 2, though pro shops and clubhouses remain shuttered.

British Columbia

The provincial government is allowing a partial reopening of the B.C. economy starting May 19, the day after the Victoria Day holiday.

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.

Northwest Territories

The Northwest Territories announced Tuesday a reopening plan that contains three phases, but the government did not say when it would be implemented. The plan includes more gatherings and the possible reopening of some schools and businesses.

However, the territory’s borders remain closed indefinitely to non-residents and non-essential workers. There are several requirements that must be met before any measures are relaxed: there must be no evidence of community spread until today; travel entry points in the territory are strong and secure; risks are reduced from workers coming into the territory; and expanded community testing is available.