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

 3 hrs agoa woman standing in front of a store filled with lots of fresh produce© Provided by The Canadian Press

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

The province entered “Alert Level 3” on June 8 in its five stage reopening plan. It means groups of up to 20 people are now permitted, as long as they observe physical distancing. Up to 19 people are allowed on public transit.

Private health clinics, such as optometrists and dentists, can open, as well as medium-risk businesses such as clothing stores and hair salons.

Travel within the province is also permitted, including to second homes, parks and campgrounds. And 11 government service centres will reopen to offer in-person services that can be booked by appointment, including written tests, driver exams and identification photos.

During Level 4 some businesses such as law firms and other professional services were allowed to reopen along with regulated child-care centres, with some restrictions.

Outdoor games of tennis were allowed to resume, though players must bring their own equipment and not share it.

Pet grooming services began operating May 25, with companies ordered to ensure their employees have personal protective equipment.

Municipal parks, golf courses and driving ranges as well as recreational hunting and fishing were also allowed to reopen in previous weeks.

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Janice Fitzgerald says the province could move to the next alert level by June 22nd.

At Level 2, businesses with performance spaces and gyms are to reopen, while Level 1 would represent “the new normal.”

Nova Scotia

Provincial campgrounds reopened June 15 at reduced capacity to ensure a minimum of six metres between individual sites. Private campgrounds had already been given the green light to reopen, but only at 50 per cent capacity. They must also ensure public health protocols are followed, including adequate distancing between campsites.

Licensed child-care centres and family daycare homes also reopened across Nova Scotia June 15.

On May 29 Premier Stephen McNeil announced a new gathering limit of 10 people, doubling the limit of five that was imposed in late March.

Physical distancing of two metres is still required, except among members of the same household or family “bubble.” The limit is the same indoors and outdoors, with exceptions for outdoor weddings and funeral services which can have 15 people.

The gathering limit also applies to arts and culture activities such as theatre performances and dance recitals, faith gatherings, and sports and physical activity. Businesses such as theatres, concerts, festivals and sporting activities also must adhere to the 10-person limit.

Nova Scotia has allowed summer day camps for children to open as long as they have a plan to follow public health measures to guard against COVID-19. The plans must cover areas such as increased cleaning, staggered pick up and drop off times and the screening of staff and campers.

Most businesses ordered shut in late March were allowed to reopen on June 5, if they have a plan that follows physical distancing protocols. The list of businesses includes bars and restaurant dining rooms, hair salons, barber shops, gyms and yoga studios, among others.

Some health providers were also able to reopen, including dentistry, optometry, chiropractic and physiotherapy offices. Veterinary services can resume business along with some unregulated professions, such as massage therapy, podiatry and naturopathy.

McNeil earlier said there would be no return to school this year. However, the province has announced an exemption to allow some public celebrations for high school graduations. Strict physical distancing rules will apply, and the exemption will last until June 30.

Trails and provincial and municipal parks can reopen along with garden centres, nurseries and similar businesses, but playground equipment is still off limits.

Public beaches have reopened along with outdoor activities like archery, horseback riding, golf, paddling, boating and tennis, with the proviso that social distancing and hygiene be maintained. Sportfishing is permitted and people can attend boating, yacht or sailing clubs for the purpose of preparing boats for use.

Drive-in religious services are now allowed, if people stay in their cars, park two metres apart and there are no interactions between people.

Prince Edward Island

Prince Edward Island Premier Dennis King says people wanting to travel to seasonal residences must apply, and those will be put through a risk assessment before approval. Seasonal residents will also be tested for COVID-19 before completing the two weeks they must spend in self-isolation after arriving in the province.

The province moved into the third phase of its reopening plan June 1, which allows such things as in-house dining at restaurants, small groups to participate in recreational and some sporting activities and libraries to reopen. Phase three also allows gatherings of up to 15 people indoors and 20 people outdoors and the reopening of child-care centres.

As well, family and friends can visit residents at long-term care homes. The visits require an appointment and must take place outdoors.

Under phase 2, non-contact outdoor recreational activities were permitted, and retail businesses could reopen with physical distancing measures in place.

Priority non-urgent surgeries and select health-service providers, including physiotherapists, optometrists and chiropractors, resumed on May 1.

The P.E.I legislature resumed May 26.

New Brunswick

New Brunswick moved to the “yellow phase” of its COVID-19 recovery plan on May 22, allowing barbers and hair stylists to reopen as well as churches and fitness facilities. Dental care, massage, chiropractors and other “close contact” businesses and services could also reopen.

But the Campbellton region, which extends from Whites Brook to the Belledune, had to take a step backwards to the “orange” level on May 27. Residents were told to once again avoid contacts outside their two-household bubble. Non-regulated health professionals and personal service businesses that opened May 22 also had to close again. And people should only be travelling in and out of Zone 5 for essential reasons.

Restrictions in the yellow phase of the province’s recovery plan were lifted on June 5. The activities now allowed include outdoor gatherings of up to 50 people, indoor religious services of up to 50 people, low-contact team sports and the opening of a long list of facilities including swimming pools, gyms, rinks, water parks, and yoga and dance studios.

People must now wear face coverings in any building open to the general public. Children under the age of two, children in daycare and people who cannot wear face coverings for medical reasons are exempt from the requirement.

Licensed daycares started reopening May 19. Children don’t have to wear masks or maintain physical distancing but are being kept in small groups.

Anyone who has travelled outside of New Brunswick will not be allowed to visit early learning and child-care facilities for 14 days.

Retail businesses, offices, restaurants, libraries, museums and seasonal campgrounds were earlier allowed to reopen providing they have clear plans for meeting public health guidelines. The resumption of elective surgeries was also part phase two of the province’s reopening plan.

Phase one, which started on April 24, allowed limited play on golf courses as well as fishing and hunting. Post-secondary students could return if it was deemed safe by the school, and outdoor church services were again permitted, providing people remain in their vehicles and are two metres apart.

The final phase, which will probably come only after a vaccine is available, will include large gatherings.

Quebec

Quebec began allowing outdoor gatherings with a maximum of 10 people from three families with social distancing in place on May 22.

On May 25 some retail businesses reopened in the greater Montreal area. Quebec reopened retail stores outside Montreal on May 11.

Parks and pools can reopen across the province but are still be subject to physical distancing and other health measures

Day camps across the province will be allowed to open as of June 22, with physical distancing and other COVID-19 health measures in effect. That means smaller groups of children and frequent handwashing. Sleep-away summer camps won’t be allowed to reopen until next year.

Sports teams resumed outdoor practices on June 8, and matches can resume at the end of the month. That includes baseball, soccer and any other sports that can be played outdoors. But players will have to keep a safe distance between them.

Lottery terminals have reopened after being shut down on March 20 with sales moving to online only.

Quebec’s construction and manufacturing industries have resumed operations with limits on the number of employees who can work per shift. Elementary schools and daycares outside Montreal reopened on May 11, but high schools, junior colleges and universities will stay closed until September.

Elementary schools in the greater Montreal area will remain closed until late August.

Courthouses across the province were permitted to reopen on June 1, with limited seating capacity and Plexiglas barriers protecting clerks and judges.

Camping is now allowed outside the Montreal and Joliette regions, as are cottage rentals.

Hairdressers, nail salons and other personal care businesses in the Montreal area reopened June 15. These types of businesses, along with shopping malls, located outside the Montreal area were allowed to reopen earlier this month.

Checkpoints set up to slow the spread of COVID-19 came down on May 18 in various parts of Quebec, including between Gatineau and Ottawa.

Meanwhile, Quebecers hoping to drive to Iles-de-la-Madeleine this summer will be permitted to travel through New Brunswick to Prince Edward Island to take the ferry as of June 26. Quebec travellers will need to get a document permitting the trip and they won’t be able to cross the provincial borders without it.

Ontario

All regions of Ontario except for Toronto, Peel and Windsor-Essex will be in Stage 2 of the province’s phased reopening plan as of June 19.

The current pandemic restrictions will stay in place for the Greater Toronto and Hamilton areas, which have a high concentration of COVID-19 cases. Border regions such as Windsor-Essex, Lambton County and Niagara, as well as Haldimand-Norfolk, which has seen an outbreak among migrant workers, are also barred, for the time being, from moving to Stage 2.

The second stage includes restaurant patios, hair salons and swimming pools.  Child-care centres across Ontario can also reopen.

Meanwhile, the limit on social gatherings increased from five to 10 provincewide, but people must still stay two metres away from anyone outside their own household. The new guidelines mean physical distancing does not need to be practised between members of the same circle.

Restrictions on wedding and funeral ceremonies across the province are also being eased as part of the phased reopening during the COVID-19 pandemic. The number of people allowed to attend an indoor ceremony is restricted to 30 per cent capacity of the venue, while outdoor events are limited to 50 people. However, the number of people allowed to attend all wedding and funeral receptions remains at 10. Participants must follow health and safety protocols, including physical distancing from people not from the same household or their established 10-person social circle

Ontario began its first stage of reopening May 19 by lifting restrictions on surgeries. Most retail stores with a street entrance were also allowed to reopen with physical distancing restrictions, and curbside pickup and delivery.

Ontarians can now resume visiting loved ones in long-term care homes, with restrictions in place, including that they test negative for COVID-19.

The Royal College of Dental Surgeons of Ontario says the profession is in Stage 2 of its three-phase reopening plan. Dentists had previously only been allowed to practice emergency or urgent care on patients in-person but can now offer other essential services with enhanced precautions.

All construction has resumed, with limits also lifted on maintenance, repair and property management services, such as cleaning, painting and pool maintenance.

Golf courses can reopen though clubhouses can only open for washrooms and take-out food. Marinas, boat clubs and public boat launches can also open, as can private parks and campgrounds for trailers and RVs whose owners have a full season contract, and businesses that board animals.

Other businesses and services included in the stage one reopening included regular veterinary appointments, pet grooming, pet sitting and pet training; libraries for pickup or deliveries; and housekeepers and babysitters.

Drive-in movie theatres and batting cages reopened May 31 with physical distancing measures in effect.

Short-term rentals including lodges, cabins, cottages, homes and condominiums were allowed to resume operations on June 5.

Backcountry campers returned to provincial parks June 1 with certain stipulations. No more than five people can occupy a single campsite, unless they live in the same household. Provincial parks also expanded permission for picnics and off-leash pet areas.

Ontario schools will remain closed for the rest of the school year and this summer’s Honda Indy Toronto has been cancelled.

Manitoba

The Manitoba government has lifted its one-month limit on people’s prescription drug supplies, allowing people to again get prescriptions filled or refilled for 90 days.

Its health offices, including dentists, chiropractors and physiotherapists can also reopen. Retail businesses can reopen at half occupancy providing they ensure physical spacing.

Museums and libraries can reopen, but with occupancy limited to 50 per cent.

Playgrounds, golf courses and tennis courts have reopened as well, along with parks and campgrounds.

On May 22 the province began allowing groups of up to 25 people indoors and 50 people outdoors.

On June 1, the province eased a ban on people visiting loved ones in personal care homes. Homes can now offer outdoor visits with a maximum of two guests per resident. Visitors will be screened upon arrival and must practice physical distancing.

Community centres and seniors’ clubs are also getting the go-ahead with limits on customer capacity and rules for physical distancing.

Bars, tattoo parlours, dine-in restaurants, fitness clubs and pools could reopen June 1 under limited capacity.

Elementary and high schools stopped in-class instruction in March and will not reopen this school year. But they were allowed, as of June 1, to offer tutoring or student assessments in small groups. Some extracurricular sports and other activities can restart.

At universities and colleges, some specific instruction such as labs and arts studios can resume for up to 25 students and staff at a time.

Amateur sports and recreation programs, as well as bowling alleys, can also resume operations.

A ban on non-essential travel to the province’s north was also eased starting June 1. Southern residents can now travel directly to cottages, campgrounds and parks, but are being told to avoid visiting northern communities.

Film productions can resume, as well as outdoor religious services with no crowd limits providing people stay in their vehicles.

Movie theatres and casinos must remain closed. Concerts, professional sporting events and other large public gatherings won’t be considered until at least September.

Manitoba extended its province-wide state of emergency until mid-June, to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Saskatchewan

The third phase of Saskatchewan’s reopening plan started June 8 with the province lifting a ban on non-essential travel in the north.

More businesses can also reopen, including places of worship, personal care services such as nail salons, tattoo parlours and gyms.

Saskatchewan has increased the size of gatherings allowed for church services and graduation ceremonies.

The government says up to 150 people or one-third the capacity of a building, whichever is less, can attend church services, including weddings and funerals.

The province says outdoor graduations can be held with a maximum 30 graduates per class and an overall attendance of 150 people. The previous limit was 15 people indoors and 30 people outdoors.

Restaurants and bars can open at half capacity, with physical distancing between tables, and child-care centres can open their doors to a maximum of 15 kids.

The province’s five-phase plan started May 11 with dentists, optometrists and other health professionals allowed to resume services. Phase 1 also included reopened golf courses and campgrounds.

Phase 4 could see arenas, swimming pools and playgrounds opening, while in Phase 5, the province would consider lifting restrictions on the size of public gatherings.

The Saskatchewan government says students will return to regular classes in September.

Alberta

In Alberta, everything from gyms and arenas to spas, movie theatres, libraries, pools and sports activities got the green light to reopen on June 12.

More people were also allowed to book campsites and sit in restaurants at the same time.

Fifty people can now gather indoors and up to 100 can congregate outside.

Among the other activities allowed to go ahead are casinos and bingo halls, community halls, instrumental concerts, massage, acupuncture and reflexology, artificial tanning and summer schools.

The 50 per cent capacity for campgrounds has been lifted, and all sites are to open for reservations by the end of the month.

There is no cap on people attending worship services as long as they physically distance and practise proper hand-washing and other hygiene protocols.

Restaurants can open at full capacity, but no more than six people are allowed per table.

Major festivals and sporting events remain banned, as do nightclubs and amusement parks. Vocal concerts are not being allowed, given that singing carries a higher risk of COVID-19 transmission.

Alberta aims to have students back in classrooms this September with some health measures in place to deal with COVID-19.

Education Minister Adriana LaGrange says a decision will be made by Aug. 1.

British Columbia

The provincial government allowed a partial reopening of the B.C. economy starting May 19.

The reopening plans are contingent on organizations and businesses having plans that follow provincial guidelines to control the spread of COVID-19. Hotels, resorts and parks will follow in June.

Parents in B.C. were given the choice of allowing their children to return to class on a part-time basis starting June 1. The government said its goal is for the return of full-time classes in September, if it’s safe.

Under the part-time plan, for kindergarten to Grade 5, most students will go to school half time, while grades 6 to 12 will go about one day a week. A mix of online and classroom post-secondary education is planned for September.

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.

Northwest Territories

The Northwest Territories announced on May 12 a three-phase reopening plan, but the government didn’t say when it would be implemented.

The plan includes more gatherings and the possible reopening of some schools and businesses. However, the territory’s borders remain closed indefinitely to non-residents and non-essential workers.

There are several requirements that must be met before any measures are relaxed: there must be no evidence of community spread; travel entry points in the territory are strong and secure; risks are reduced from workers coming into the territory; and expanded community testing is available.

Yukon

In the Yukon new guidelines have been released for long-term care facilities that will allow for visits with one designated person at a pre-set location outdoors.

The territory also says bars with an approved health and safety plan can reopen at half capacity under certain other restrictions starting June 19.

Travel restrictions will be lifted between Yukon and B.C. after July 1 under the second phase of the territory’s pandemic restart plan. After that date, travellers between the province and territory will no longer be required to self-isolate for 14 days.

The territory says monitoring the status of neighbouring jurisdictions will determine if it’s safe to further lift restrictions.

Yukon has been gradually easing pandemic restrictions since May 15 with dine-in restaurants, day cares and recreational centres reopening.

Territorial parks and campgrounds have also reopened.

Two households of up to 10 people in total are currently able to interact with each other as part of a “household bubble.”

The territory’s reopening plan outlines five phases including a period after a vaccine is available.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 17, 2020

The Canadian Press

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