by Christopher Guly
While efforts are being made to contain the COVIVD-19 epidemic in Canada, there is also serious consideration of resuming the businesses and services significantly reduced amid lockdown measures, which are already struggling to survive, though the plan ahead may be vague in some places.
On Monday, Doug Ford, premier of Canada’s largest province Ontario, released a “framework for reopening” that will follow a three-stage approach, but without any dates provided.
The first stage will see the opening of “select workplaces that can immediately modify operations to meet public-health guidance” and “some outdoor spaces like parks,” while allowing more people to attend some events, such as funerals, which now can be held with only 10 mourners or less.
Some service industries and retailers will be allowed to restart in the second phase, with the reopening of all workplaces and further easing of restrictions on public gatherings during the third phase.
The Ontario government has implemented a buffer for two to four weeks between each phase to ensure a decrease in the daily number of new COVID-19 cases.
“The framework is about how we are reopening, not when we are reopening,” Ford told a regular COVID-19 news conference, adding that it is “a roadmap, not a calendar.”
However, Quebec, the French-speaking province next to Ontario, has set out at least one timeline.
Elementary schools and daycare facilities outside the most populous Montreal region are scheduled to reopen on May 11 — eight days later in the Montreal region. Class sizes will be limited to 15 students; high schools, colleges and universities in Quebec will remain closed until September, Quebec Premier Francois Legault said Monday.
Some lockdown measures will be or have been lifted in two other Canadian provinces.
On May 4, people in Saskatchewan will be able to access such healthcare services as dentistry, optometry and physiotherapy, while in New Brunswick, residents can go to parks and beaches, play golf, and attend religious services outdoors.
Although the Canadian government has worked with its provincial and territorial counterparts to develop guidelines for reopening their economy, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told a COVID-19 news conference on Monday that the provinces and territories “have the authority to determine what is in their best interest.”
Noting the differences among provinces in the number of COVID-19 cases, as well as within provinces, such as the divide between rural and urban areas, Trudeau said that he has “full confidence in the premiers of the provinces and territories to move forward in a way that is right for them.”
Yet, Ottawa is playing more of a direct role in resuming business and services by securing the supply of personal protective equipment that some sectors will need when dealing with customers or clients.
Trudeau said Monday that daily flights from China this week will bring personal protective equipment to Canada.
Canada’s Public Health Agency reported 48,500 COVID-19 cases and 2,707 deaths across the country as of Monday evening. Enditem