Provinces have been releasing plans for easing restrictions that were put in place to limit the spread of COVID-19
As Canada tries to contain the novel coronavirus, some provinces are preparing plans to reopen their economies. COVID-19 has gripped the country, forcing more than a million people out of their jobs in March and into the hands of government subsidies.
Each province’s economic relaunch plan varies. See how yours may or may not reopen.
Ontario is allowing a small number of mostly seasonal businesses to re-open on May 4.
The list includes garden centres for curbside pickup, lawn care and landscaping companies, auto dealerships by appointment, automatic and self-serve car washes, and a broad list of essential construction projects. Golf courses and marinas will be allowed to start to prep for the season, but not yet open to the public.
Provincial officials have released guidelines to further lift Ontario’s lockdown measures, though a concrete date has not been set. Ontario’s gradual framework will unwind in three stages and progress is based on whether criteria in the preceding stage are met. The first stage involves opening “select workplaces that can meet current public health guidelines,” allowing essential gatherings with limited people — such as funerals — and opening some outdoor spaces. Hospitals will allow some non-urgent and scheduled surgeries, and other health care services. In the second stage, the province will consider opening more workplaces with “significant” mitigation plans, opening more public spaces and allowing some larger public gatherings. In the third and final stage, Ontario will consider opening all workplaces responsibly and relaxing restrictions on public gatherings. Implementing the framework and progressing to the next stage will be based on a range of criteria, including a consistent two-to-four-week decrease in the number of new daily COVID-19 cases; that the province has appropriate acute and critical care capacity, including enough ventilators and PPE; that local public health officials must reach 90 per cent of all new coronavirus patients within one day; and that testing capacity continues to grow. Measures to protect vulnerable populations and, through each stage, public health guidelines such as hand washing and physical distancing, should be observed. Provincial officials have extended the emergency order to May 6. Schools will remained closed until at least May 31, Education Minister Stephen Lecce said.
Quebec has announced a gradual reopening of its economy throughout May, beginning with schools. Starting May 4, school staff will be allowed to return while primary school kids living outside the Montreal area can return to school on May 11. Primary students in “hot zones,” such as Montreal, can return to school on May 19, though they will not be forced to go to school.
Stores outside of Montreal will also be able to open starting May 4, while those in the greater Montreal area will open May 11. Shopping malls will remain closed unless the stores inside have an outside entrance. Manufacturers will resume operations beginning May 11 with initial limits on the number of employees. The construction industry will completely reopen starting May 11.
A formal plan has not been released, but Quebec officials have been looking to public health for guidance. Throughout its reopening plan, physical distancing will be maintained.
Saskatchewan was the first province in Canada to unveil a reopening plan, which includes five phases.
Phase one begins on May 4, where the province would permit “low-risk” outdoor recreational activities, including fishing, boat launches, golfing and camping. People can also start accessing some medical services, such as going to the dentist, eye doctor or physical therapist. Physical distancing will be observed throughout phase one and gatherings will have a limit of 10 people.
Phase two is set to begin two weeks after, on May 19. Many retail stores will be permitted to open, including clothing stores, flower shops, pawn shops, travel agencies, hairdressers, vaping supply shops, boat dealers, book stores and registered massage therapists. Physical distancing will have to be in place and retail stores will have to follow cleaning guidelines that essential businesses must currently adhere to. Clothing stores, for example, will have to limit how customers touch merchandise, and trying on clothes and returning them will be prohibited. Phase three has no set date, but it contains plans for opening up a remaining chunk of businesses, including tattoo shops, nail salons, gyms, restaurants and childcare facilities. Most places will have a maximum gathering size of 15 people, except for restaurants and bars that will be able to operate at 50 per cent capacity. Recreation areas, including dance floors and pool tables inside of restaurants and other similar establishments, will have to stay closed. Daycares will only allow 15 kids into their spaces. Phase four also has no set date, but public gatherings will be allowed to increase to a maximum of 30 people. All recreation and entertainment facilities, including casinos, camping, sports, theatres, bingo halls, playgrounds and galleries will be allowed to open. Physical distancing will still have to be observed. Phase five, the final phase, has no set date yet and very little detail. The government document says it will consider lifting long-term restrictions, particularly increasing public gathering limits.
Premier Blaine Higgs put the first phase of his four-phase reopening plan into action April 24, after seven days straight of no new COVID-19 cases. 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, which could begin within two to four weeks, would see resumption of elective surgeries, and reopening of daycares, offices, restaurants, ATV trails and seasonal campgrounds. The third phase would allow regular church services, dentistry work and reopened fitness centres. The final phase, which would probably come only after a vaccine is available, would include large gatherings.
PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND
Prince Edward Island released a four-phased approach to relaxing COVID-19 restrictions for the province.
The first phase of the Renew P.E.I. Together plan kicked off May 1 and allows people to participate in some recreational activities, including walking, hiking, golfing and fishing. Gatherings of no more than five people from different households will be allowed. As well, residents are allowed onto their seasonal properties. The province will also permit some non-urgent health services to open, such as optometrists, physiotherapists and chiropractors. Elective surgeries will begin gradually too. Outdoor, residential construction will be allowed to start on projects such as decks, landscaping and pools. Road work and watershed maintenance will also begin. Essential workers will be allowed to access daycare for their kids. The second phase, set to begin May 22, increases public gathering sizes to 10 people from different households. Retail outlets will be allowed to open, including hairdressers and pet groomers. Businesses have to ensure that customers can maintain proper social distancing and clothing stores cannot permit try-ons. Unlicensed and licensed childcare centres can operate. The third phase is intended to begin June 12 and increased public gatherings to 15 to 20 people. Organized outdoor activities and sports will be permitted, such as soccer, tennis and day camps. The province may also open swimming pools, recreation centres, gyms, libraries, and art galleries. Additional personal grooming services could open, such as nail salons, tattoo shops and spas. Restaurants could open, but only members of the same household can dine together. No buffet-style service will be permitted and entertainment such as pool tables or dance floors will have to stay closed. Only P.E.I. residents will be allowed to go camping and checkin at bed-and-breakfasts. Details and timelines of the fourth phase are to be determined. In the province’s plan, the fourth phase describes a “new way of life” that islanders will have to withstand. “Eventually we will be able to spend time with our family in long-term care and others at greatest risk of severe illness, to have large gatherings of friends and family, to enjoy festivals and events, and to connect with those from other provinces and countries,” the report states.
Manitoba has so far introduced two phases to begin the reopening its economy.
The first phase will begin May 4, where people can now pursue non-emergency surgeries and and medical practices like dentists and eye doctors will be accessible to the public. Retail stores can reopen, as well as hairdressers. Restaurants can reopen, though no dine-in will be allowed, except on patios, as well as outdoor recreation and campgrounds.
The second phase will continue to expand public gatherings, children can participate in non-contact sports, film production will be allowed and people can dine-in at restaurants. The second phase will begin no earlier than June 1.
Alberta started allowing golf courses to reopen on the weekend, and has told dentists, physiotherapists and other medical professionals they can start operating again Monday.
The province said that stage one, including some retail re-opening, including daycares and hairdressers, could begin as soon as May 14. In this phase, restaurants could open at half-capacity, though bars could not. Schools will remain shut down and visitors to health care facilities will be restricted.
Phases two and three will be contingent on the success of earlier phases and will, potentially, see all business re-open, the resumption of concerts and festivals and lifting of restrictions on the number of people in one gathering. Phase two could see schools open; nightclubs and rec facilities will remain closed until phase three.
Both B.C. Premier John Horgan and public health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry have talked about opening up the economy by mid-May, but they first want to see days where the province does not report any new cases of COVID-19 before reopening.
The province hasn’t released its reopening plan, but Horgan is promising details this week.
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.”
Nova Scotia is easing some public health restrictions, however, directives around physical distancing and social gatherings will 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.
There are no plans to lift the restrictions put in place. Nunavut declared a state of public health emergency on March 18.
The Northwest Territories have no plan in place to lift the state of emergency first declared on March 24.
The Yukon has no plan in place to lift the state of emergency it first declared on March 27.
With files from Tyler Dawson and The Canadian Press.