Nova Scotia announced Friday it’s immediately easing some of its COVID-19 restrictions, one day after Alberta and Newfoundland released frameworks for how they would reopen their economies. As more political leaders follow suit, many businesses, health practitioners and even cities are working to figure out how they will operate as restrictions are lifted.
Manitoba’s largest city is scrambling to try and get amenities, such as playgrounds and golf courses, ready to reopen on Monday, after a provincial plan set out a timeline for lifting restrictions.
“There is much more to reopening than simply reversing measures that we’ve put into place,” Mayor Brian Bowman said, as he asked Winnipeggers to be patient with the reopening process.
Officials in Quebec announced they will be launching a more “aggressive” testing strategy as they prepare to loosen their own restrictions. Dr. Horacio Arruda, Quebec’s director of public health, said the province is planning to conduct 14,000 tests a day, up from roughly 6,000. Increased testing and contact tracing are considered by experts to be an essential part of any plan to reopen the economy.
Canadian Forces personnel are seen at the Vigi Mount Royal seniors residence in Montreal on Friday. (Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press)
Ontario on Friday announced it will allow a limited number of businesses to reopen, as long as they meet “strict public health measures.” Lawn care and landscaping services, garden centres and nurseries with curbside pickup, community gardens, automatic and self-serve car washes, auto dealers and some construction projects will be allowed to open on Monday, with specific rules around how they can operate.
“Today’s news show us if we stay the course, if we stay vigilant and take the measured approach, we can keep moving in the right direction,” Premier Doug Ford said at a news briefing.
And while provinces eye ways to jump-start their economies, people across the country are struggling to receive EI payments after losing their jobs due to the pandemic. Many Canadians have gone weeks without benefits because of problems with their EI applications, and find they’re unable to make it through jammed phone lines to get help.
The C.D. Howe Institute’s Business Cycle Council, which monitors recessions and recoveries in Canada, declared on Friday that the country is officially in a recession caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic is still less than two months old in Canada, but it said Friday the slowdown is already so swift and deep that it’s safe to declare a recession.
People wearing face masks are seen in downtown Ottawa on Friday. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press)
As of 5 p.m. ET on Friday, Canada had 54,810 confirmed and presumptive coronavirus cases, with the majority concentrated in Ontario and Quebec. Provinces and territories list 22,529 of the cases as resolved or recovered. A CBC News tally of COVID-19-related deaths based on provincial data, regional health information and CBC’s reporting lists 3,462 deaths in Canada and two known coronavirus-related deaths of Canadians abroad.
Public health officials have cautioned that the recorded numbers are likely too low, noting that they fail to capture information on people who have not been tested or who are still under investigation as possible coronavirus cases. Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer, has urged people to behave as though there is coronavirus in their community, even if there haven’t been any recorded cases.
The novel coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or death. There is no proven treatment or vaccine for the virus, which first emerged in China in late 2019.
What’s happening in the provinces and territories
Police in British Columbia have made hundreds of home visits to make sure residents who recently returned home from abroad are following self-isolation orders. The visits were to roughly 500 people who had not responded to phone calls and text messages from authorities making sure recent travellers were quarantining as promised. Read more about what’s happening in B.C.
A golfer is seen at the reopened McCleery Golf Club in Vancouver on Friday. (Ben Nelms/CBC)
Albertans will have more space to roam outside beginning in early May after the province announced it is lifting some COVID-19 restrictions. Premier Jason Kenney said golf courses will open on Saturday (though pro shops and clubhouses will stay closed), followed by a broader opening of outdoor spaces in early May. Non-urgent medical services will be allowed to open Monday, with retail and businesses to follow later in the month. Read more about what’s happening in Alberta.
Premier Jason Kenney urged Albertans to use common sense as he laid out Alberta’s plans to attempt to relaunch parts of the economy during the <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/COVID19?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#COVID19</a> pandemic by mid-May. <a href=”https://t.co/8fZ54EedWA”>pic.twitter.com/8fZ54EedWA</a>
Saskatchewan’s premier put travel restrictions on a broad swath of the province’s far north to try and deal with a COVID-19 outbreak. People there are now facing a ban on travelling outside their home communities for anything other than essential trips for food or medical needs. Read more about what’s happening in Saskatchewan, including how reopening differences between Manitoba and Saskatchewan are making it complicated for border towns.
New rules kick in for Manitoba care homes today, limiting health-care workers to just one care home. The province reported four new cases of COVID-19 on Friday, bringing the total to 279. Read more about what’s happening in Manitoba.
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Ontario reported eight COVID-19 outbreaks at long-term care homes on Friday, bringing the provincial total to 198. In response to the spread of COVID-19 in long-term care and retirement homes, a provincial health-care advocacy group is organizing a day of action Friday to call for improved access to testing and personal protective equipment at the facilities.
Also on Friday, the province announced it would allow some businesses to reopen on May 4 “under strict guidelines. Read more about what’s happening in Ontario.
A cyclist wearing a face mask rides their bicycle past cherry blossoms fenced off to curb gatherings at a park in Toronto on Friday. (Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press)
Quebec’s director of public health says the province is launching a more “aggressive” testing strategy in the community, as it begins to loosen pandemic restrictions. Dr. Horacio Arruda said the province is planning to conduct 14,000 tests a day, up from roughly 6,000 tests a day that it’s currently doing.
Arruda also announced 163 more COVID-19-related deaths. While this is the highest number reported on a single day, he said it includes previously unreported deaths for the month of April. Read more about what’s happening in Quebec, including concerns parents and teachers in the province have over a plan to reopen schools in under two weeks.
A person is given hand sanitizer before being tested at a COVID-19 testing clinic in Montreal on Friday. (Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press)
New Brunswick has now gone 13 days straight without a new case of COVID-19. “That is very good news, but we are still actively searching for cases of COVID-19,” said Dr. Jennifer Russell, the chief medical officer of health, during Friday’s news briefing. On Thursday, Russell cautioned there will be new cases in New Brunswick, but health officials are now more prepared for the next wave. Read more about what’s happening in N.B.
The Nova Scotia government announced Friday it is immediately easing some public health restrictions. Rules around physical distancing and social gatherings remain in place. People must keep two metres apart and not gather in groups of more than five.
Nova Scotia reported 12 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday, bringing its total to 959 confirmed cases. The province has recorded 29 deaths related to COVID-19. Read more about what’s happening in N.S.
A paramedic and an ambulance is seen at Northwood Manor, one of the largest nursing homes in Atlantic Canada, in Halifax on Friday. (Andrew Vaughan/The Canadian Press)
Prince Edward Island had no new cases of COVID-19 again on Friday. Since Thursday, 75 new negative test results have returned, Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Heather Morrison said. Read more about what’s happening on P.E.I., including how the premier is asking the federal government to change its COVID-19 benefits program in order to motivate people to get back to work.
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Newfoundland and Labrador reported one new case on Friday. It’s the first in five days. On Thursday, the province introduced a reopening plan, which sets May 11 as a target date for the lifting of some restrictions, including around non-urgent medical care and low-risk outdoor activity. That plan allowed households to form a “bubble,” allowing them to spend time with one other household. On Friday, the province’s chief medical officer of health warned that allowance could be rescinded if the number of new cases spikes. Read more about what’s happening in N.L.
Nunavut reported its first case of COVID-19 on Thursday. Dr. Michael Patterson, chief public health officer in the territory, said the case was detected in Pond Inlet, and the person is in self-isolation. Nunavut had been the only remaining province or territory in Canada without a reported case of the novel coronavirus. Read more about what’s happening across the North.
WATCH | Some good news from across the country on Friday:
With much of the world struggling through the COVID-19 pandemic, there are still some good-news stories to report. Here’s a brief roundup. 3:13 What’s happening in the U.S.
From Reuters, updated at 3:45 p.m. ET
The White House let its two-week-old economic reopening guidelines expire on Thursday as half of all U.S. states forged ahead with their own strategies for easing restrictions on restaurants, retail and other businesses shuttered by the coronavirus crisis.
The enormous pressure on states to reopen, despite a lack of wide-scale virus testing and other safeguards urged by health experts, was highlighted in new Labor Department data showing some 30 million Americans have sought unemployment benefits since March 21.
About two-dozen states, mostly in the South, the Midwest and mountain West, have moved to relax restrictions since Georgia led the way late last week. Texas, Ohio and Florida — among others — this week outlined plans for doing so in the days ahead.
A worker sprays disinfectant on a cart used at a golf course in McCandless, Pa., on Friday. (Keith Srakocic/The Associated Press)
But no companies are required to reopen, and it was not clear how many business owners and their employees would return to work, and how many patrons would venture back into stores and restaurants.
The number of coronavirus cases is still climbing in many parts of the country, although peaks appear to have been reached in New York state, the epicentre of the U.S. outbreak, and other places.
After rolling out trillions of dollars in support for the U.S. economy during the pandemic, Federal Reserve officials have begun warning of potentially lasting scars to the workforce and productivity if the recovery is not handled well.
People wearing face masks are seen at a salon in Edmond, Okla., on Friday. (Sue Ogrocki/The Associated Press)
In separate comments on Friday, the heads of three Fed regional banks said the aggressive efforts already taken to keep companies and firms afloat are only the start of what will be required to get the economy back to normal, with worker retraining, retooled social safety nets, and other steps needed once the health crisis eases.
“We need to be working on the economy’s recovery rate” after the crisis, said Richmond Fed president Thomas Barkin, noting that companies may be operating less efficiently under physical distancing rules, business investment may be hampered by eroded confidence, and workers may pull back from the labour market as they rethink how to care for children and aging parents in an era when day care facilities and nursing homes pose higher risks.
The chief executive of American pharmceutical company Gilead Sciences Inc., maker of the experimental coronavirus drug remdesivir, said on Friday he expected the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to act quickly over the company’s application for approval.
“We’re moving very quickly with the FDA,” Daniel O’Day said in an interview with NBC’s Today show. “And I expect that they’re going to act very quickly.”
The U.S. National Institutes of Health on Wednesday said preliminary results from its trial of remdesivir showed that COVID-19 patients given the drug recovered 31 per cent faster than those given a placebo.
What’s happening around the world
From The Associated Press and Reuters, updated at 3:45 p.m. ET
Countries must lift lockdowns gradually, while still being “on the look-out” for COVID-19 and ready to restore restrictions if the virus jumps back, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Friday.
Vulnerable people in institutions, including those in long-term care facilities, prisons and migrant dormitories, must be protected, said Dr. Mike Ryan, WHO’s top emergencies expert.
Even if the virus is coming under control, communities must know to still follow physical distancing and hygiene measures, and testing of suspect cases must continue, he said.
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As in much of the rest of Europe, Italy’s May Day traditions, which pay tribute to the role of workers in society, have been upended by lockdown rules forbidding gatherings during the coronavirus pandemic.
The heart and soul of Italy’s May Day commemoration have been rallies led by union leaders, followed by an evening of rock and pop music in Rome, drawing crowds sometimes topping 100,000 in the square outside St. John in Lateran Basilica.
This year, musical artists will take turns performing solo in venues without anyone in the audience. Their music will be broadcast on TV and by state radio, with the evening’s theme being, “Working in safety to build a future.”
Deaths from COVID-19 in Italy climbed by 269 on Friday, down from 285 the day before, the Civil Protection Agency said, while the daily tally of new infections stood at 1,965 compared to 1,872 on Thursday.
Police checks permissions of people travelling to nearby beaches in Rome on Friday. (Cecilia Fabiano/LaPresse via AP)
In Germany, hundreds gathered in a square in Berlin on Friday to mark May Day. They did so in defiance of a ban on public gatherings of more than 20, exposing deep frustrations with physical distancing rules in place in Germany since mid-March to contain the spread of the coronavirus.
Germany has been slowly easing its way out of a six-week lockdown. Small shops reopened this week, and playgrounds, museums and churches will follow starting on Monday.
Most Germans support the lockdown enforced by the country’s 16 states and backed by Chancellor Angela Merkel, despite its heavy toll on the economy, which is expected to contract by a record of more than six per cent this year.
Demonstrators practice social distancing at a Labour Day rally in Duisberg, Germany, on Friday. (Caroline Seidel/dpa via AP)
Britain has hit its target of carrying out 100,000 COVID-19 tests a day, Health Minister Matt Hancock said on Friday, stressing the program is crucial to helping ease a national lockdown.
He set the target of 100,000 tests by the end of April after being criticized for moving too slowly compared to other countries such as Germany. Hancock also announced the British death toll had risen by 739 to 27,510 deaths — just below that of Italy, which was one of the first and worst-hit European countries.
A medical worker takes a swap at a coronavirus drive-thru testing centre in the parking lot of the closed Chessington World of Adventures Resort theme park in London on May 1. (Warren Little/Getty Images)
French President Emmanuel Macron warned on Friday that the end of the national lockdown on May 11 would only be a first step as France looks to pull out of the crisis created by the COVID-19 outbreak. The number of people who have died from the disease in France rose by 218 to 24,594 on Friday, while hospitalisations and people in intensive care continued to decline, France’s public health chief said.
Spain’s government expects that the eurozone’s fourth-largest economy will shrink by 9.2 per cent this year and that unemployment will reach 19 per cent of the working-age population. Deputy Prime Minister Nadia Calvino announced the grim forecast on Friday when she explained Spain’s economic stability plan that it has presented to the European Union.
An elderly person wearing a face mask is seen sitting in a wheelchair in Barcelona on Friday. (Nacho Doce/Reuters)
Russia registered almost 8,000 new coronavirus cases on Friday in yet another record daily spike, bringing the total to 114,431. The number of cases is likely to be much higher as not everyone gets tested, and tests in Russia were reported to be only 70 to 80 per cent accurate.
In at least five Russian regions, health officials registered a surge of pneumonia cases. In Moscow, which accounts for half of all virus cases, all respiratory infections are likely to be caused by the coronavirus, according to the public health agency Rospotrebnadzor.
Police officers are seen wearing face masks while on patrol in St. Petersburg, Russia, on Friday. (Dmitri Lovetsky/The Associated Press)
Japan will formally decide as early as Monday whether to extend its state of emergency, which was originally set to end on May 6.
In China, Beijing’s parks and museums, including the ancient Forbidden City, reopened to the public after being closed for months by the coronavirus pandemic.
WATCH | May Day celebrations prompt surge at China’s tourist hot spots as COVID-19 restrictions lessen
Outside Beijing’s Forbidden City, one man expressed the joy of the moment: “I hope that by coming here to visit, I can start a beautiful day in 2020.” 0:53
India said on Friday it would extend its nationwide lockdown for another two weeks after May 4, but would allow “considerable relaxations” in lower-risk districts marked as green and orange zones under the government’s plan to fight the novel coronavirus.
The country registered another daily high in coronavirus cases, with nearly 2,000 recorded in the past 24 hours. India’s Health Ministry said Friday the 1,993 new cases and 73 more deaths bring the country’s totals to 35,043 cases and 1,147 deaths.
The government is due to decide the future of its 40-day lockdown on Sunday. It allowed migrant workers and other stranded people to resume their journeys on Wednesday, as well as some shops to reopen and manufacturing and farming to resume.
A volunteer at Jhandewalan temple in New Delhi packs free food packets Friday to be distributed by the Sewa Bharti organization during a government-imposed nationwide lockdown as a preventive measure against COVID-19. (Prakash Singh/AFP/Getty Images)
A holiday atmosphere enlivened South Africa’s streets as the May Day public holiday is also when the country has begun easing its strict lockdown. For the first time in five weeks, people were permitted to walk outside for exercise between 6 a.m. and 9 a.m., and thousands, with mandated face masks and keeping distance, were out walking through the streets.
Some South Africans will be able to return to work in small batches and many businesses will resume limited operations. Many factories can resume operations in phases, starting with only a third of employees allowed to return, and they must abide by distancing and other guidelines.
Public transport, including trains and buses, will begin operating with a restricted number of passengers. Even with the easing, South Africa’s lockdown remains strict, with no sales of liquor and cigarettes permitted.
A South African Police Service officer commands a man to wear a face mask in Hillbrow, Johannesburg, on Friday, during a joint patrol by the South African National Defence Force, the South African Police Service and the Johannesburg Metro Police Department. (Michele Spatari/AFP/Getty Images)
Zimbabwe‘s President Emmerson Mnangagwa extended a nationwide lockdown to fight the new coronavirus by two more weeks and announced a $720 million US stimulus package for distressed companies, most which will be allowed to reopen on Monday.
Brazil reported a record 7,218 cases in the last 24 hours and 435 additional fatalities. Peruvian authorities, meanwhile, closed a busy food market in Lima after mass rapid testing confirmed more than 160 positive cases.
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