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.
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.
As of 7:30 p.m. ET on Friday, Canada had 55,061 confirmed and presumptive coronavirus cases, with the majority concentrated in Ontario and Quebec. Provinces and territories list 22,762 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 3,507 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.
Alberta is reporting an outbreak at an Amazon warehouse north of Calgary. Dr. Deena Hinshaw, the province’s chief medical health officer, says there are five cases at the site in Balzac. The company reported its first confirmed case among the more than 1,000 full-time workers on April 12.
Also Friday, Hinshaw announced the province is launching a voluntary mobile app to expand contact tracing. The app, once downloaded, uses Bluetooth to identify any other nearby phones that have the same app. Anyone with the app who later develops COVID-19 will be asked to upload the data to Alberta Health Services, which will use it to reach out to those who came in contact with the person. 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 on Friday reported 26 new cases — the largest single-day increase in more than a month, and the second largest increase in the province since the pandemic began, behind the 30 new cases reported on March 28. Of the 26 new cases, 19 are in La Loche and the surrounding area, including Clearwater River Dene Nation.
“We’ve very concerned with the increase in cases,” said Dr. Saqib Shahab, Saskatchewan’s chief medical health officer. “The current outbreak in the north is due to further community transmission; people who have been exposed in the community.” Read more about what’s happening in Saskatchewan.
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.
WATCH | Indigenous teen hoop dancer moves into Ottawa retirement residence to help during COVID-19:
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.
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.
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.
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.
WATCH | COVID-19: Is airborne transmission possible?
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.
In Canada’s North, all of the territory’s 11 confirmed cases of COVID-19 have recovered. Yukon Justice Minister Tracy-Anne McPhee also announced Friday that someone has been charged under Yukon’s Civil Emergency Measures Act for allegedly failing to self-isolate as required. Read more about what’s happening across the North.
WATCH | Some good news from across the country on Friday:
What’s happening in the U.S.
From The Associated Press, updated at 9:15 p.m. ET
More than a dozen states let restaurants, stores or other businesses reopen Friday in the biggest one-day push yet to get their economies up and running again, acting at their own speed and with their own quirks and restrictions to make sure the coronavirus doesn’t come storming back.
People in Louisiana could eat at restaurants again but had to sit outside at tables three metres apart with no waiter service. Maine residents could attend church services as long as they stayed in their cars. And a Nebraska mall reopened with Plexiglas barriers and hand-sanitizing stations but few shoppers.
Meanwhile, the first drug shown to help fight COVID-19 won emergency approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. In a major study, remdesivir shortened patients’ recovery time from 15 days to 11 on average and may have also reduced deaths.
President Donald Trump said Friday that he’s hoping the total number of COVID-19 deaths in the United States will be below 100,000, which he acknowledged is a “horrible number.” Trump’s predictions of the expected U.S. death toll have changed over time, with his earlier 60,000 projection now being eclipsed. But he said at a White House event that “maybe millions of lives” have been saved by shutting down the economy.
More than 64,000 people have died in the U.S. so far.
With the crisis stabilizing in Europe and in many places in the U.S., countries and states are gradually easing their restrictions amid warnings from health experts that a second wave of infections could hit unless testing for the virus is expanded dramatically.
In much of Colorado, people could get their hair cut and shop at stores again, though stay-at-home orders remained in place in Denver and surrounding counties.
Wyoming let barbershops, nail salons, gyms and daycare centres reopen. In Maine, golf courses, hairdressers and dentists opened.
Hotels near South Carolina beaches opened and state parks unlocked their gates for the first time in more than a month. But in Myrtle Beach, the state’s most popular tourist destination, hotel elevators will be restricted to one person or one family — a potential inconvenience at the area’s 15- and 20-storey resorts.
Texas’s reopening got underway with sparse crowds at shopping malls and restaurants allowing customers to dine in, though only at 25 per cent capacity in most places. A video posted on social media showed a city park ranger in Austin getting shoved into the water Thursday while asking people in a crowd to keep six feet apart from each other. Police charged a 25-year-old man with attempted assault.
Around the country, protesters have demanded governors reboot the battered economy. More than 100 people chanted and carried signs in front of Chicago’s Thompson Center, where Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker has an office, to call for an end to the statewide lockdown.
Pritzker has said he will not lift his order until it’s safe, and several counterprotesters expressed support for his position. Nurse anesthetist Benjamin Salazar held up a sign that read, “Stay home. We are getting tired of seeing people die.”
New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham invoked the state’s Riot Control Act as she sealed off all roads to nonessential traffic in the city of Gallup, population 70,000, to help control a surging coronavirus outbreak in the former trading post on the outskirts of the Navajo reservation.
In the hardest-hit corner of the U.S., New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said schools and colleges will remain closed through the rest of the academic year.
In Washington state, where the nation’s first COVID-19 case was confirmed in January, Gov. Jay Inslee said Friday that he is extending the state’s coronavirus stay-at-home order through at least May 31 and that he will ease the restrictions in four stages. Washington also had the first deadly cluster of cases in the U.S., at a Seattle-area nursing home.
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.
WATCH | WHO review finds COVID-19 remains a public health emergency:
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.
WATCH | Italian cities test physical distancing measures as restrictions soon to ease:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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 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.
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.
WATCH | May Day 2020 brings protests, arrests and little physical distancing:
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