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More coronavirus restrictions being lifted across the country

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Monday, May 11th, 2020

Some significant steps will be taken Monday in the slow process of lifting restrictions imposed to limit the spread of the coronavirus pandemic in Canada.

Quebec, which accounts for more than half of the country’s novel coronavirus cases, is reopening elementary schools and daycares outside the Montreal area.

Students will be subject to physical distancing and frequent handwashing while school officials follow public health guidelines for cleaning and disinfection.

Attendance, however, is not mandatory, and two school boards have told The Canadian Press that most of their students will be staying home for now.

Quebec is also allowing most retail stores outside Montreal to open Monday, but pushed back the opening date for schools and other businesses in the hard-hit metropolis to May 25 as case numbers there remained high.

Meanwhile, Ontario is allowing non-essential retail stores to open for curbside pickup, after letting hardware and safety supply stores to reopen on the weekend.

It’s also opening its provincial parks, though visitors must adhere to physical distancing rules and park camping grounds, beaches and playgrounds will remain closed.

Alberta is also planning to allow some retail stores to open this week, while Saskatchewan and Manitoba began to gradually reopen last week.

British Columbia is phasing in the reopening of its economy with certain health services, retail outlets, restaurants, salons and museums resuming some operations in mid-May.

On the other side of the country, Newfoundland and Labrador is allowing some medical procedures to resume today, 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 can also reopen.

As of this morning Canada had recorded 68,848 confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases, including 4,871 deaths and 32,109 cases resolved.

Relaxing restrictions and the Cargill concern: In The News for May 11

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Monday, May 11th, 2020

In The News is a roundup of stories from The Canadian Press designed to kickstart your day. Here is what’s on the radar of our editors for the morning of May 11 …

COVID-19 in Canada ….

Some significant steps will be taken today in the slow process of lifting restrictions imposed to limit the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic in Canada.

Quebec, which accounts for more than half of the country’s novel coronavirus cases, is reopening elementary schools and daycares outside the Montreal area.

Students will be subject to physical distancing and frequent handwashing while school officials follow public health guidelines for cleaning and disinfection.

Attendance, however, is not mandatory, and two school boards have told The Canadian Press that most of their students will be staying home for now.

Quebec is also allowing most retail stores outside Montreal to open today.

Meanwhile, Ontario is allowing non-essential retail stores to open for curbside pickup today, and is also opening its provincial parks, though with some restrictions.

Alberta is also allowing some retail stores to open this week, while on the other side of the country, Newfoundland and Labrador is allowing some medical procedures to resume today, 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 can also reopen.

As of this morning Canada had recorded 68,848 confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases, including 4,871 deaths and 32,109 cases resolved.

Also this …

MONTREAL — A Cargill meat-processing plant south of Montreal is closing its doors after at least 64 workers tested positive for COVID-19.

The outbreak in Chambly, Que., marks the second time the company has experienced a COVID-19 closure at one of its facilities in Canada.

A spokeswoman for the union representing the workers said the Cargill plant will close temporarily as of Wednesday so all its workers can be tested.

Roxane Larouche said 171 workers were sent home last week as a preventative measure, and 30 of them have tested negative. The testing is expected to last until Friday, and the plant will reopen once there are enough uninfected employees to run it safely.

Cargill said the 64 workers represent 13 per cent of the workforce at the plant. The company said three employees have recovered.

The workplace had implemented safety measures for employees, including installing plexiglass between workers where possible, staggering arrival and departure times and providing masks, visors and safety glasses, Larouche confirmed.

A Cargill beef-packing plant in High River, Alta., reopened last Monday after a two-week shutdown.

More than 900 of 2,000 workers at that plant have tested positive for the novel coronavirus.

COVID-19 in the U.S. …

WASHINGTON — U.S. Vice-President Mike Pence is self-isolating after an aide tested positive for the coronavirus last week.

An administration official says Pence is voluntarily keeping his distance from other people in line with CDC guidance.

The official says Pence has repeatedly tested negative for COVID-19 since his exposure but is following the advice of medical officials.

Pence’s move comes on the heels of three members of the White House coronavirus task force placing themselves in quarantine after being exposed to someone at the White House who had the virus.

COVID-19 around the world …

PARIS — The French began leaving their homes and apartments today for the first time in two months without permission slips as the country began cautiously lifting its virus strict lockdown.

In Paris, crowds packed into some subway lines and train stations despite new social distancing rules. Clothing shops, hair salons and real estate agencies were among businesses large and small reopening today, albeit with strict precautions to keep coronavirus at bay.

Teachers were returning to prepare classes to welcome students later in the week, but in limited numbers.

But Health Minister Olivier Veran held out the possibility of a re-confinement if infections rise again.

France is among the countries hardest hit by the virus, with more than 26,000 deaths in hospitals and nursing homes.

COVID-19 in sports …

JACKSONVILLE, Florida — UFC President Dana White wanted a major fight card weeks ago. He was confident his team could pull it off whether it took place on a tribal land, on a private island or in any of the 10 states offering to host it.

Coronavirus testing. Fan-free arena. Social distancing. Self-isolation. White looked at all those unprecedented details that seemed too complex and too risky to some outsiders as merely extra challenges.

But White and the UFC look like the big winners following their big show at Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville Saturday night. And UFC 249 could serve as a blueprint for other sports leagues around the U.S. and the world as they start to resume during a global pandemic.

The NFL, NBA, NHL, Major League Baseball and NASCAR, all of them had to have an eye on how the UFC approached and handled the first major human-centric sporting event in the U.S. since the new coronavirus shuttered much of the country nearly two months ago.

The UFC created a 25-page document to address health and safety protocols, which included disinfecting the octagon between bouts and mandating tests and masks for nearly everyone in attendance.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 11, 2020

The Canadian Press

Virtual parliamentary proceedings cause spike in injuries for interpreters

JOAN BRYDEN, THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Friday, May 8th, 2020

OTTAWA — Virtual sittings of the House of Commons and parliamentary committees are causing headaches for interpreters — literally.

Coping with iffy audio quality, occasional feedback loops, new technology and MPs who speak too quickly has resulted in a steep increase in interpreters reporting workplace injuries, according to the union that represents some 70 accredited interpreters who translate English into French and vice versa.

Those injuries include acute acoustic shock, tinnitus, headaches, nausea, sleeplessness, mental fog and inability to concentrate.

Commons Speaker Anthony Rota has been doing his best to help by reminding MPs repeatedly to wear headsets, which provide better audio quality, and to speak more slowly.

But that advice clashes with another change that has resulted from the move to virtual proceedings during the COVID-19 pandemic: strict limits on the amount of time allowed to question ministers and for them to give answers.

To make the most of their five-minutes worth of questions, some MPs are asking a series of rapid-fire questions, which can leave ministers with only a few seconds of matching time in which to attempt to answer.

“I had a long conversation yesterday …,” Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland began to say Thursday before being cut off in her response to a short question about whether there have been any discussions with the United States about re-opening the border.

Canadians were destined never to find out with whom she’d had that long conversation as her questioner, Conservative MP Todd Doherty, switched to another topic for a different minister on his next question.

Rota implored MPs at several time to “please speak at a reasonable pace” for the sake of the interpreters.

“This is just how fast I speak when we’re in the House of Commons,” responded Conservative MP Raquel Dancho at one point, who promised to “try to speak more slowly.”

Earlier in the week, interpreters and the union representing them, the Canadian Association of Professional Employees, appealed to MPs on the procedure and House affairs committee, which is studying ways to move to a fully virtual Parliament, to help minimize the problems.

CAPE president Greg Phillips told the committee that more injuries were reported by interpreters in April alone than were reported in all of 2019.

Virtual proceedings are more of strain on interpreters at the best of times, requiring them to work shorter shifts. That, combined with the steep increase in injuries, sick leave and requests for transfer to non-virtual assignments during the pandemic, has resulted in a shrinking pool of available interpreters, Phillips said.

“We are getting close to our worst-case scenario,” he said.

Due to technological challenges, the interpreters are not able to work from home but must come to Parliament Hill. But Phillips said about 40 of the 70 interpreters on staff are unable to come to work due to child care and other COVID-19-related issues.

There are about 60 accredited freelance interpreters who can help fill the gaps. But even so, Phillips said they are getting “dangerously close” to being unable to keep up with the demand for translation services required to keep officially bilingual parliamentary proceedings operable.

Interpreter Nicole Gagnon told the committee that because MPs are using different technologies to connect with virtual proceedings, sound quality is often problematic and sometimes results in loud feedback loops that cause acute acoustic shock for the interpreters, who all wear headsets.

Symptoms of acoustic shock are similar to those caused by a concussion, she said, adding that the effects are cumulative so it takes longer to recover each time it occurs.

Phillips said interpreters have also reported suffering “residual and long-lasting beating sound, pounding in sharp bursts in the ear drum.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 8, 2020.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Joan Bryden, The Canadian Press

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

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Friday, May 8th, 2020

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 on May 11 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.”

On Tuesday, legislators 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 comes the day after a travel ban came into effect barring anyone but permanent residents and asymptomatic workers in key sectors from entering the province.

Nova Scotia

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

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. But screening is to continue at points of entry into the province and all people coming into P.E.I. are required to isolate for 14 days.

New Brunswick

Premier Blaine Higgs put the first phase of his four-phase reopening plan into action on April 24. It allows limited play on golf courses as well as fishing and hunting. Two families are allowed to interact as part of a so-called “two-family bubble.” Post-secondary students can return if it’s deemed safe by the school, and outdoor church services can be held, if people remain in their vehicles and are two metres apart. The second phase is to see the resumption of elective surgeries and the reopening of daycares, offices, restaurants, ATV trails and seasonal campgrounds. 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.

Quebec

Quebec reopened retail stores outside Montreal on Monday while those in the greater Montreal region are to reopen May 25. For the second time, the province pushed back the reopening of retail stores in the greater Montreal area by another week. Premier Francois Legault said 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. Elsewhere in Quebebc, lottery terminals began to reopen Monday after being shut down on March 20 with sales moving to online only. Legault has set May 11 as reopening day for schools and daycares outside greater Montreal. High schools, junior colleges and universities are to stay closed until September. Quebec’s construction industry is to completely start up May 11, while manufacturing companies are to resume operations the same day with initial limits on the total number of employees who can work per shift.

Ontario

The province announced Wednesday it is allow non-essential retail stores to open for curbside pickup next week. Premier Doug Ford says garden centres and nurseries will also be allowed to open on Friday, and hardware stores and safety supply stores will be allowed to reopen on Saturday. He says those stores will be expected to follow the same public health measures as grocery stores and pharmacies currently do, such as physical distancing, offering contactless payment and sanitizing surfaces. Ontario also extended its emergency orders, which include the continued closure of non-essential businesses. The emergency orders, which were set to expire Wednesday, have now been extended for another two weeks, to May 19. They also include a prohibition of public gatherings of more than five people, the closure of bars and restaurants except for take-out and delivery, libraries, theatres and concert venues, outdoor amenities such as playgrounds, and child care centres. 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 the earlier opening and later closing times in stages until they apply to all stores in the first week of June.

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

Manitoba allowed Monday health offices, including dentists, chiropractors and physiotherapists to reopen. Retail businesses are to reopen at half occupancy as long as they can ensure physical spacing. Restaurants can reopen patios and walk-up service. Museums and libraries opened Monday, but occupancy is to be limited to 50 per cent. Playgrounds, golf courses and tennis courts are to reopen 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 plans 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. On May 14, retail businesses, such as clothing, furniture and bookstores, are to 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.

British Columbia

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 7, 2020

 

The Canadian Press

Statistics Canada says nearly 2 million jobs lost in April

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Friday, May 8th, 2020

The Canadian economy lost almost two million jobs in April, a record high, as the closure of non-essential services to slow the spread of the coronavirus devastated the economy and forced businesses to shutter temporarily.

The loss of 1,993,800 comes on top of more than one million jobs lost in March.

Statistics Canada says the unemployment rate soared to 13.0 per cent as the full force of the pandemic hit compared with 7.8 per cent in March.

It was the second highest unemployment rate on record.

Economists on average had expected the loss of four million jobs and an unemployment rate of 18 per cent, according to financial markets data firm Refinitiv.

 

Experts warn of increasing car use, loss of transit routes post-crisis

AMY SMART, THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Thursday, May 7th, 2020

VANCOUVER — Getting around Stanley Park since the pandemic struck is a new experience for Tom Green.

Roads that weave through the urban forest in Vancouver have been closed to traffic, making space for residents to get fresh air at a physical distance.

“It’s become a cycling and walking paradise and you can hear the birds better,” said the climate solutions policy analyst for the David Suzuki Foundation.

Mobility data released by Apple suggests enormous declines in personal transportation since COVID-19 began its spread in Canada.

Users of the company’s Maps app made 80 per cent fewer requests for directions on transit between Jan. 13 and May 4 across the country. Requests from drivers dropped 42 per cent, while walkers dropped 40 per cent during the same period.

It’s a shift that one expert says places communities at a crossroads. There’s an opportunity to encourage healthier forms of transportation after the crisis subsides but there’s also a lot at stake, said Meghan Winters, an associate professor of health sciences at Simon Fraser University in nearby Burnaby.

“I think the biggest challenge that will face our cities is that we’re not going to recover in terms of transit,” Winters said.

Data from post-lockdown China suggests more people are driving, she said.

In Canada, already cash-strapped transit agencies are facing sharp revenue declines and with a new public aversion to shared spaces that could extend into the long-term.

The Toronto Transit Commission has temporarily laid off 1,200 employees amid an 85 per cent drop in ridership. In Metro Vancouver, TransLink says it is losing around $75 million each month due to reductions in ridership and lost fuel tax revenue.

Service cuts are manageable in neighbourhoods where alternate routes are available but there’s a question about equity if some routes are cut permanently. Not everyone can drive and people with disabilities, teens and seniors could lose vital links to groceries and medical appointments, Winters said.

Cities aren’t designed to handle significant increases in congestion unless a large portion of the economy shifts to more permanent work-from-home arrangements, she said.

But there’s also an opportunity as more people bike and walk on roads without traffic in many places. People who don’t normally cycle have been able try it out in a safer way and could continue riding under the right conditions, she said.

“If there’s one silver lining here, it’s that we’ve been in a place that isn’t as car-centric, that doesn’t have that same congestion, pollution, noise, stressors. And people have been out in their communities noticing different things, hearing different things, feeling safer on their streets,” Winters said.

But it will take a co-ordinated effort for cities to hold onto that change, she said.

“They’ll have to invest in ensuring that walking and cycling continue to feel like safe activities for people.”

In the short-term, police in several jurisdictions said they’ve seen a large drop in road accidents during the pandemic, but also more dangerous driving on the open roads.

“We’re definitely seeing lighter volumes of traffic at all hours of the day throughout the entire city,” said Sgt. Jason Kraft of the Toronto Police Service.

At the same time, between March 23 and April 27, stunt driving charges in the city rose almost 10 times to 220 compared with the 32 over the same period last year. Speeding tickets rose to 5,900 from 5,500, Kraft said.

“Drivers are choosing to double and sometimes triple the posted speed limit,” he said. “Our public roads are not your personal race track.”

Since March 21, Edmonton police have seen about 100 incidents of people driving at least 50 kilometres an hour over the speed limit. The highest was a motorist driving 214 km/h in a 100 km/h zone, spokeswoman Cheryl Voordenhout said.

By the end of March, Edmonton had recorded a 30 per cent decrease in traffic volume, while there was a 30 per cent increase in speeding of more than 20 kilometres per hour over the limit, Voordenhout said.

Environmentalists are watching how reduced flights and traffic will affect global emissions.

Official figures won’t be available for some time, but estimates suggest that global emissions still haven’t dropped enough to meet commitments in the Paris Agreement on climate change, Green said.

Globally, models suggest an annual decline of about six to eight per cent in energy use and greenhouse gas emissions in 2020. Emissions would have to come down by the same rate every year in order to meet the targets, he said.

“While it’s a drop in emissions right now, the remaining emissions are still very, very high and of course the level of CO2 in the atmosphere is what’s built up over decades,” he said, noting last month was the hottest April on record.

“So we haven’t solved the climate crisis this way.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 7, 2020.

Amy Smart, The Canadian Press

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

The Canadian Press | posted Thursday, May 7th, 2020

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 on May 11 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.”

On Tuesday, legislators 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 comes the day after a travel ban came into effect barring anyone but permanent residents and asymptomatic workers in key sectors from entering the province.

Nova Scotia

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

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. But screening is to continue at points of entry into the province and all people coming into P.E.I. are required to isolate for 14 days.

New Brunswick

Premier Blaine Higgs put the first phase of his four-phase reopening plan into action on April 24. It allows limited play on golf courses as well as fishing and hunting. Two families are allowed to interact as part of a so-called “two-family bubble.” Post-secondary students can return if it’s deemed safe by the school, and outdoor church services can be held, if people remain in their vehicles and are two metres apart. The second phase is to see the resumption of elective surgeries and the reopening of daycares, offices, restaurants, ATV trails and seasonal campgrounds. 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.

Quebec

Quebec reopened retail stores outside Montreal on Monday while those in the greater Montreal region are to reopen May 18. The province pushed back the reopening of retail stores in the greater Montreal area by one week. Lottery terminals began to reopen Monday after being shut down on March 20 with sales moving to online only. Premier Francois Legault has set May 11 as reopening day for schools and daycares outside greater Montreal. The city is to follow suit on May 19, but attendance won’t be mandatory. High schools, junior colleges and universities are to stay closed until September. Quebec’s construction industry is to completely start up May 11, while manufacturing companies are to resume operations the same day with initial limits on the total number of employees who can work per shift.

Ontario

The province announced Wednesday it is allow non-essential retail stores to open for curbside pickup next week. Premier Doug Ford says garden centres and nurseries will also be allowed to open on Friday, and hardware stores and safety supply stores will be allowed to reopen on Saturday. He says those stores will be expected to follow the same public health measures as grocery stores and pharmacies currently do, such as physical distancing, offering contactless payment and sanitizing surfaces. Ontario also extended its emergency orders, which include the continued closure of non-essential businesses. The emergency orders, which were set to expire Wednesday, have now been extended for another two weeks, to May 19. They also include a prohibition of public gatherings of more than five people, the closure of bars and restaurants except for take-out and delivery, libraries, theatres and concert venues, outdoor amenities such as playgrounds, and child care centres. 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 the earlier opening and later closing times in stages until they apply to all stores in the first week of June.

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

Manitoba allowed Monday health offices, including dentists, chiropractors and physiotherapists to reopen. Retail businesses are to reopen at half occupancy as long as they can ensure physical spacing. Restaurants can reopen patios and walk-up service. Museums and libraries opened Monday, but occupancy is to be limited to 50 per cent. Playgrounds, golf courses and tennis courts are to reopen 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 plans 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. On May 14, retail businesses, such as clothing, furniture and bookstores, are to 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.

British Columbia

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 7, 2020

 

The Canadian Press

The latest numbers on COVID-19 in Canada

The Canadian Press | posted Thursday, May 7th, 2020

The latest numbers of confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 4 a.m. ET on May 7, 2020:

There are 63,496 confirmed and presumptive cases in Canada.

_ Quebec: 34,327 confirmed (including 2,510 deaths, 8,284 resolved)

_ Ontario: 18,722 confirmed (including 1,429 deaths, 13,222 resolved)

_ Alberta: 5,963 confirmed (including 112 deaths, 3,552 resolved)

_ British Columbia: 2,255 confirmed (including 124 deaths, 1,494 resolved)

_ Nova Scotia: 998 confirmed (including 41 deaths, 661 resolved)

_ Saskatchewan: 512 confirmed (including 6 deaths, 312 resolved)

_ Manitoba: 273 confirmed (including 7 deaths, 242 resolved), 11 presumptive

_ Newfoundland and Labrador: 259 confirmed (including 3 deaths, 244 resolved)

_ New Brunswick: 120 confirmed (including 118 resolved)

_ Prince Edward Island: 27 confirmed (including 26 resolved)

_ Repatriated Canadians: 13 confirmed (including 13 resolved)

_ Yukon: 11 confirmed (including 11 resolved)

_ Northwest Territories: 5 confirmed (including 5 resolved)

_ Nunavut: No confirmed cases

_ Total: 63,496 (11 presumptive, 63,485 confirmed including 4,232 deaths, 28,184 resolved)

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 7, 2020.

The Canadian Press

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

The Canadian Press | posted Wednesday, May 6th, 2020

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 on May 11 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.”

On Tuesday, legislators 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 comes the day after a travel ban came into effect barring anyone but permanent residents and asymptomatic workers in key sectors from entering the province.

Nova Scotia

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

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. But screening is to continue at points of entry into the province and all people coming into P.E.I. are required to isolate for 14 days.

New Brunswick

Premier Blaine Higgs put the first phase of his four-phase reopening plan into action on April 24. It allows limited play on golf courses as well as fishing and hunting. Two families are allowed to interact as part of a so-called “two-family bubble.” Post-secondary students can return if it’s deemed safe by the school, and outdoor church services can be held, if people remain in their vehicles and are two metres apart. The second phase is to see the resumption of elective surgeries and the reopening of daycares, offices, restaurants, ATV trails and seasonal campgrounds. 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.

Quebec

Quebec reopened retail stores outside Montreal on Monday while those in the greater Montreal region are to reopen May 18. The province pushed back the reopening of retail stores in the greater Montreal area by one week. Lottery terminals began to reopen Monday after being shut down on March 20 with sales moving to online only. Premier Francois Legault has set May 11 as reopening day for schools and daycares outside greater Montreal. The city is to follow suit on May 19, but attendance won’t be mandatory. High schools, junior colleges and universities are to stay closed until September. Quebec’s construction industry is to completely start up May 11, while manufacturing companies are to resume operations the same day with initial limits on the total number of employees who can work per shift.

Ontario

The province allowed a small list of mostly seasonal businesses to reopen Monday. They include garden centres with curbside pick-ups, lawn care and landscaping companies, and automatic car washes. All will have to follow physical distancing measures. Last month, Ford released a three-step plan for slowly reopening Ontario’s economy, but it did not include a timeline. It said Stage 1 could include opening select workplaces and parks, allow more people at certain events such as funerals, and hospitals to resume some non-urgent surgeries. Stage 2 could include opening more businesses and outdoor spaces, while Stage 3 would include opening all work places and further relaxing rules on public gatherings — though large ones such as sporting events and concerts would still be restricted.

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

Manitoba allowed Monday health offices, including dentists, chiropractors and physiotherapists to reopen. Retail businesses are to reopen at half occupancy as long as they can ensure physical spacing. Restaurants can reopen patios and walk-up service. Museums and libraries opened Monday, but occupancy is to be limited to 50 per cent. Playgrounds, golf courses and tennis courts are to reopen 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 plans 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. On May 14, retail businesses, such as clothing, furniture and bookstores, are to 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.

British Columbia

British Columbia hasn’t released its reopening plan, however, Premier John Horgan is promising details today.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 6, 2020

 

The Canadian Press

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

Talia Knezic | posted Wednesday, May 6th, 2020

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 on May 11 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.”

On Tuesday, legislators 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 comes the day after a travel ban came into effect barring anyone but permanent residents and asymptomatic workers in key sectors from entering the province.

Nova Scotia

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

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. But screening is to continue at points of entry into the province and all people coming into P.E.I. are required to isolate for 14 days.

New Brunswick

Premier Blaine Higgs put the first phase of his four-phase reopening plan into action on April 24. It allows limited play on golf courses as well as fishing and hunting. Two families are allowed to interact as part of a so-called “two-family bubble.” Post-secondary students can return if it’s deemed safe by the school, and outdoor church services can be held, if people remain in their vehicles and are two metres apart. The second phase is to see the resumption of elective surgeries and the reopening of daycares, offices, restaurants, ATV trails and seasonal campgrounds. 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.

Quebec

Quebec reopened retail stores outside Montreal on Monday while those in the greater Montreal region are to reopen May 18. The province pushed back the reopening of retail stores in the greater Montreal area by one week. Lottery terminals began to reopen Monday after being shut down on March 20 with sales moving to online only. Premier Francois Legault has set May 11 as reopening day for schools and daycares outside greater Montreal. The city is to follow suit on May 19, but attendance won’t be mandatory. High schools, junior colleges and universities are to stay closed until September. Quebec’s construction industry is to completely start up May 11, while manufacturing companies are to resume operations the same day with initial limits on the total number of employees who can work per shift.

Ontario

The province allowed a small list of mostly seasonal businesses to reopen Monday. They include garden centres with curbside pick-ups, lawn care and landscaping companies, and automatic car washes. All will have to follow physical distancing measures. Last month, Ford released a three-step plan for slowly reopening Ontario’s economy, but it did not include a timeline. It said Stage 1 could include opening select workplaces and parks, allow more people at certain events such as funerals, and hospitals to resume some non-urgent surgeries. Stage 2 could include opening more businesses and outdoor spaces, while Stage 3 would include opening all work places and further relaxing rules on public gatherings — though large ones such as sporting events and concerts would still be restricted.

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

Manitoba allowed Monday health offices, including dentists, chiropractors and physiotherapists to reopen. Retail businesses are to reopen at half occupancy as long as they can ensure physical spacing. Restaurants can reopen patios and walk-up service. Museums and libraries opened Monday, but occupancy is to be limited to 50 per cent. Playgrounds, golf courses and tennis courts are to reopen 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 plans 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. On May 14, retail businesses, such as clothing, furniture and bookstores, are to 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.

British Columbia

British Columbia hasn’t released its reopening plan, however, Premier John Horgan is promising details today.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 6, 2020

 

The Canadian Press

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