Health & Safety
Gatherings restricted, schools closed: What’s being done to fight COVID-19 across Canada
By Todd Humber
The COVID-19 pandemic has affected every province and territory. Medical officers of health and Canada’s chief public health officer are encouraging people to wash their hands, give each other space and wear a mask if they’re sick.
Ottawa has put money into health-care research and the economy. It has also put restrictions on international travel and is enforcing 14-day quarantines for travellers returning to Canada to try to limit spread of the novel coronavirus.
Classes are suspended or cancelled at schools throughout the country.
Each province and territory also has its own emergency measures to detect cases and prevent spread of the virus.
Here’s a look at some of the ways different jurisdictions are responding:
B.C. declared a provincial state of emergency on March 18, a day after announcing a public health emergency.
The measure gives the province authority to take any action necessary to protect people and communities, including charging people who ignore public health orders.
The province has also prohibited reselling essential supplies such as food and cleaning material.
All parking fees at B.C. hospitals starting April 1 will be cancelled to ensure safer access for patients and staff.
Officials have prohibited gatherings of more than 50 people in one place, including restaurants, schools, places of worship, theatres, casinos, sports arenas and outdoor venues.
Some provincial parks are closed.
Officials have also issued fire restrictions as the wildfire season begins.
Premier John Horgan says he is extending the state of emergency through the end of April 14.
Alberta declared a public health emergency on March 17.
The province has given law enforcement agencies full authority to enforce orders and issue fines for violations.
There are restrictions on mass gatherings of more than 15 people, both indoors and outdoors at places of worship, weddings or funerals. Any gathering must allow people to keep the two-metre distance from others.
All non-essential businesses have been ordered closed, including personal service providers, clothing stores and furniture stores.
Albertans are prohibited from attending public or private recreational and entertainment facilities. Restaurants have been ordered closed, except for takeout or delivery. Casinos are closed.
Vehicle access to provincial parks and public lands is also prohibited to visitors.
Albertans who have been ordered to quarantine cannot leave their property for 14 days. That also bars people who live in apartments to use the elevators.
Premier Scott Moe declared a provincial state of emergency on March 18.
It directs all orders from the chief medical health officer be followed and gives police the authority to enforce them.
Public gatherings are limited to no more than 10 people.
Nightclubs, bars and lounges are closed, but they are allowed to provide takeout food or alcohol.
Recreational and entertainment facilities are closed. Personal service providers such as tattoists, hairdressers, estheticians and relaxation masseuses cannot operate.
Dental, optometrist, chiropractic and podiatry clinics are closed _ except for emergencies.
The Manitoba government declared a provincewide state of emergency on March 20.
The province has limited public gatherings to no more than 10 people, down from an earlier limit of 50.
It includes any indoor or outdoor spot, places of worship or family events such as weddings and funerals.
Non-essential businesses have been ordered to close. Salons, spas, bars and other establishments will be closed starting Wednesday. Restaurants can remain open for takeout or delivery only.
The closures do not affect health-care facilities, government services and other institutions.
Bingo and gaming venues as well as wellness centres and gyms are closed.
Ontario declared a state of emergency on March 24.
All business except those deemed essential have been shut down.
All bars and restaurants, except for takeout and delivery, have been closed.
Also closed are recreational facilities, public libraries, private schools, licensed child-care centres, movie theatres and concert venues.
Any public events of more than 50 people, including parades, events and services at places of worship, are prohibited.
Provincial parks are closed.
The City of Toronto has also shut down playgrounds, sports fields, off-leash dog parks, skateboard parks and picnic areas. Parking lots attached to parks are closed.
Quebec declared a public health emergency on March 13 and renewed it a week later.
The government has reduced non-priority services and prohibited indoor and outdoor gatherings.
Quebec has also prohibited non-essential visits to hospitals, residential and long-term care centres or between children in foster families and their biological families.
Designated clinics have been opened for anyone displaying symptoms.
To give retail employees a break, stores will be closing on Sundays in April, with only pharmacies, gas stations, convenience stores and takeout restaurants remaining open on those days.
Montreal’s mayor has also declared a state of emergency to help authorities better manage the spread of COVID-19 among the city’s homeless.
A state of emergency was declared in New Brunswick on March 19.
Businesses serving food and beverages have been restricted to takeout and delivery. Lounges and clubs are forbidden from allowing customers to enter.
Customers are not allowed to enter retail businesses, unless they serve food, medication, fuel or other essential supplies.
Many health services — such as chiropractors, dentists and optometrists — are prohibited from seeing patients in person unless absolutely necessary.
No gatherings larger than 10 people are allowed and residents are urged to stay home as much as possible.
Any unnecessary travel into New Brunswick is prohibited.
The province of Nova Scotia declared a state of emergency on March 22.
It set out specific rules for self-isolation and self-quarantine for people returning from outside Canada.
All schools and daycares are closed. Long-term care facilities and residential care facilities are closed to visitors.
Casinos have closed and no business is allowed to operate a video lottery terminal.
Restaurants are restricted to takeout and delivery service only. Drinking establishments are closed.
There are also restrictions on health professionals such as chiropractors and dentists.
Prince Edward Island
Premier Dennis King declared a public health emergency on March 16.
It included an order to Islanders to refrain from attending any public gatherings and a closure of libraries, child-care facilities, gyms and schools.
Measures announced a week later included fines for anyone who doesn’t comply with a direction to self-isolate.
The public health officer recommends people who are self-isolating stay on their own property when outside.
The government is working to open an out-patient clinic to allow for increased testing and to ease the load on hospitals.
Newfoundland and Labrador
The province declared a public health emergency on March 18.
It includes the closure of most businesses _ with the exception of grocery stores, pharmacies, gas stations and other stores considered essential.
Gatherings of more than 10 people are not allowed. That includes funerals and weddings.
Anyone arriving from outside the province is required to self-isolate for 14 days.
Health officials have the authority to restrict the rights and freedoms of people in a time of crisis. People who violate orders face fines.
Yukon declared a state of emergency on March 27.
Yukon residents flying into Canada with COVID-19 symptoms must quarantine at their arrival destination, and those without symptoms are ordered to self-isolate for 14 days when they get home.
Yukon has asked everyone arriving in the territory, including mine workers, to self-isolate for 14 days.
The government has closed bars and limited social gatherings to 10 people or less.
Recreation facilities, libraries, museums and visitor centres are closed. School classes are suspended until at least April 15.
Long-term care facilities are closed to visitors and volunteers, while all non-urgent or routine services, including lab tests, X-rays, physiotherapy and occupational therapy are suspended.
All dentists must also suspend non-urgent treatment until further notice.
The Northwest Territories declared a public health emergency on March 18, which has now been upgraded to a state of emergency.
It requires anyone who arrives in the territory from outside its boundary to self-isolate for 14 days.
Travel through all points of entry into the territory — both air and road — is prohibited.
The orders exclude essential service workers such as medical professionals or emergency services.
The territory has asked that all indoor and outdoor gatherings be cancelled _ regardless of size or number.
Many businesses, including tour operators, gyms, museums and theatres, have been ordered to close.
The government said it will help Indigenous families who want to head out on the land as an alternative to physical distancing. It will administer a $2.6-million grant to help families buy the proper gear and supplies to head out to fishing and hunting camps.
Nunavut declared a public health emergency on March 20.
It has no known cases of COVID-19, but it has restrictions in place.
There is a mandatory 14-day self-isolation period at one of four locations in southern Canada for any resident that wants to return to Nunavut.
Critical employees who need to return to work must apply for an exemption.
All non-essential medical travel has been cancelled.
Public gatherings, including at playgrounds or parks and at religious, cultural or spiritual services is prohibited.
Sources: Provincial and territorial government websites