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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

Ceremony to be held for service members who died in helicopter crash

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

The Canadian military is to hold a special ramp ceremony Wednesday at Canadian Forces Base Trenton to repatriate remains of a service member and honour all six who died in a helicopter crash off the coast of Greece.

The Cyclone helicopter carrying six Armed Forces members crashed into the Ionian Sea on April 29. Defence officials have said it was returning to HMCS Fredericton at the end of a NATO training mission.

The remains of Sub-Lt. Abbigail Cowbrough were recovered while the other five service members on board are missing and presumed dead. The remains of one other person have been recovered but not yet identified.

Those service members whose remains were not recovered will be represented by military headgear resting on pillows to be carried by fellow military members.

The ceremony is scheduled to begin at 2:30 p.m. ET and can be live streamed on the Canadian Armed Forces Facebook page.

Following the ceremony, a procession will proceed down the Highway of Heroes from Trenton to Toronto.

“Despite the challenges presented by the current COVID-19 environment and the need to maintain physical distancing, 8 Wing/CFB Trenton is committed to a dignified and respectful repatriation for our fallen aviators and sailors,” the Canadian Armed Forces said Tuesday.

Physical distancing protocols have been built into the ceremony, the military said. Except for pallbearers, all CAF members on parade will remain two metres apart.

All in attendance will be wearing masks and gloves will be worn by pallbearers and those unable to physically distance.

While such processions have traditionally been accompanied by crowds gathering along the highway to show their support and honour those who have died, the Ontario government is asking people to watch it from home because of COVID-19.

MPs convene today and a special ramp ceremony; In The News for May 6

The Canadian Press | posted Wednesday, May 6th, 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 5 …

COVID-19 in Canada …

OTTAWA — The Trudeau government is expected to face a grilling today from opposition parties over its handling of the COVID-19 crisis.

A small number of MPs are to convene for a once-a-week, in-person sitting of the House of Commons and they are expected to zero in on the perceived deficiencies of the billions of dollars in emergency aid programs the federal government has implemented to cushion the economic impact of the pandemic.

Among the criticisms, the outraged reaction of Canadian farmers to the $252 million in support announced Tuesday for the agri-food sector — far less than the $2.6 billion deemed necessary by the Canadian Federation of Agriculture.

Trudeau will not be in the Commons to deflect the criticism — he is to be at a base in Trenton, Ont., for a repatriation ceremony for the six members of the Forces who died in last week’s helicopter crash off the coast of Greece.

Nor will he be giving his usual morning briefing on the COVID-19 crisis.

The absence of the prime minister and lack of any new announcements will shift the focus from what the government is doing to combat the pandemic to what opposition parties contend it is doing wrong.

In other Canadian news …

OTTAWA — The Canadian military is to hold a special ramp ceremony today at Canadian Forces Base Trenton to repatriate remains of a service member and honour all six who died in a helicopter crash off the coast of Greece.

The Cyclone helicopter carrying six Armed Forces members crashed into the Ionian Sea on April 29. Defence officials have said it was returning to HMCS Fredericton at the end of a NATO training mission.

The remains of Sub-Lt. Abbigail Cowbrough were recovered while the other five service members on board are missing and presumed dead. The remains of one other person have been recovered but not yet identified.

Those service members whose remains were not recovered will be represented by military headgear resting on pillows to be carried by fellow military members.

Following the ceremony, a procession will proceed down the Highway of Heroes from Trenton to Toronto.

Also this …

HIGH RIVER, Alta. — A moment of silence is planned at the Cargill meat packing plant near High River, Alberta, today to honour an employee who died of COVID-19.

Hiep Bui, who was 67, worked at the Cargill slaughterhouse for 23 years and was responsible for picking out beef bones from hamburger meat.

She became ill on her shift on a Friday, was hospitalized the next day and died on the Sunday.

The plant, which employs 2,000 people, reopened Monday after a two-week shutdown due to a COVID-19 outbreak.

Bui’s husband, Nga Nguyen, told reporters at her memorial that he hadn’t heard from Cargill.

Cargill says it has now reached out to him and described Bui as a “long-time employee, trusted colleague and friend.”

COVID-19 in the U.S. …

WASHINGTON — A senior government scientist is alleging that the Trump administration failed to prepare for the onslaught of the coronavirus in spite of his repeated warnings earlier this year.

Dr. Rick Bright, former director of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, also alleges in his whistleblower complaint that he was reassigned to a lesser role because he resisted political pressure to allow widespread use of hydroxychloroquine.

U.S. President Donald Trump has pushed the malaria drug as a treatment for COVID-19, but the Food and Drug Administration now warns doctors against prescribing it except in hospitals and research studies.

COVID-19 around the world …

NEW DEHLI — Health officials are rushing to contain the spread of the coronavirus in India’s southern city of Chennai.

A large cluster has been identified among people at one of the country’s largest markets for fruit, vegetables and flowers.

The busy Koyambedu market is central to the food supply chain in Tamil Nadu and neighbouring states.

It had remained open through India’s nationwide lockdown but was shut after the viral cluster was detected.

Tamil Nadu has confirmed more than 4,000 cases and says many of the new cases are linked to the market.

The cluster contributed to India’s biggest single-day increase in virus infections yet, 3,900 cases and 195 deaths.

COVID-19 in Sports

TORONTO — Ontario Premier Doug Ford says the Toronto Maple Leafs’ parent company has been in contact with the province about the possibility of Canada’s biggest city serving as a so-called “hockey pod” for teams should the NHL resume its season.

Speaking at his daily COVID-19 media briefing Tuesday, Ford said Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment has reached out, but hasn’t provided any details about a potential proposal.

The NHL, which was forced to pause its schedule March 12 amid the COVID-19 pandemic, has been looking at plans to centralize groups of teams in low-risk centres in hopes of resuming the 2019-20 campaign this summer.

Under one rumoured proposal, fans wouldn’t be allowed in arenas and teams would be sequestered in hotels. There were 189 games left in the regular season when the NHL halted play.

Ontario’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. David Williams, said he’s interested to see what the NHL and other leagues eventually propose for a resumption of play.

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

The Canadian Press

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