More restrictions to lift this week across Canada as economies reopen

The latest:

Justin Trudeau will take a break today and tomorrow from his COVID-19 briefings to spend some long weekend time with his family at the Harrington Lake prime ministerial retreat in Gatineau, Que.

The briefings will resume on Tuesday as some provinces begin loosening restrictions that have locked down their economies for two months to try to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Ontario will enter its first stage of reopening on May 19 by lifting restrictions on certain retailers and the construction industry. Some surgeries will also resume.

WATCH | Canada approves first COVID-19 vaccine trials:

The first Canadian clinical trials for a possible COVID-19 vaccine have been approved by Health Canada. Dr. Scott Halperin, the director of the Canadian Center for Vaccinology, explains the different phases of testing that a potential vaccine would have to go through. 8:56

As part of the province’s reopening plans, retail stores outside of shopping malls with street entrances can begin reopening with physical distancing measures in place. 

Pet care services, such as grooming and training, and regular veterinary appointments can also begin again in Stage 1.

British Columbia’s government will allow a partial reopening of the province’s economy starting Tuesday. However, the reopenings are contingent on organizations and businesses having plans that follow provincial guidelines to control the spread of COVID-19.

While many provincial parks in B.C. are now open for day use, officials are still discouraging unnecessary travel.

In New Brunswick, licensed daycares can begin reopening Tuesday. And while children will not have to wear masks they will be separated into small groups as a safety precaution.

Meanwhile, Alberta welcomed the arrival of the Victoria Day weekend by increasing the limit for outdoor gatherings to 50 people — up from 15 — as long as members of different households stay two metres apart.

WATCH | Some good news from around the world this week:

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. 3:03

As parts of the country were forging ahead with reopenings this long weekend, there was news that Health Canada has approved Canada’s first clinical vaccine trial.

Dalhousie University’s Scott Halperin, director of the Canadian Center for Vaccinology in Halifax, told CBC News the clinical trials will build on work already done by China’s CanSino Biologics, which started early stage human trials on a potential vaccine in mid-April.

Testing will be done in three stages, with a growing number of participants as it moves along. Typically, completing all of the stages to get a vaccine ready for approval can take five to seven years, “but those steps have been compressed somewhat” for the Canadian studies, Halperin said.

That would be achieved by not waiting for the first stage to be completely finished before advancing to the next stage, as is the usual practice.

Halperin said it’s expected the first study using fewer than 100 healthy volunteers between the ages of 18 and 55 will likely get underway within the next three weeks and participants will be followed over a six-month period.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau confirmed approval for the vaccine studies on Saturday, as he also announced that the Canadian Red Cross would be getting $100 million in federal funding to help it support Canadians through the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as future floods and wildfires.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks during his daily news conference on the COVID-19 pandemic outside his residence at Rideau Cottage in Ottawa on Saturday. (Justin Tang/The Canadian Press)

Meanwhile, Amazon says it will be ending its pandemic-related pay incentives for workers in its Canadian warehouses at the end of the month.

Company spokesperson Kelly Cheeseman confirmed Saturday the online retail giant will stop paying employees the extra $2 per hour and double overtime incentives they had been receiving since the COVID-19 pandemic began.

Amazon’s pay incentives were initially supposed to end at the end of April but the company extended the program in the U.S. and Canada through May 30.

The retail company has been criticized by employees in the U.S. and Canada for allegedly not doing enough to protect workers from COVID-19 and for not offering adequate support to employees who fall sick from the virus.

A worker sprays sanitizer on a golf cart before handing it off to golfers at the Loch March Golf & Country Club in Ottawa on Saturday. (Justin Tang/The Canadian Press)

As of 6:00 a.m. ET on Sunday, Canada had 75,864 confirmed and presumptive coronavirus cases, with 37,832 of those considered recovered or resolved. A CBC News tally of COVID-19 deaths based on provincial health data, regional information and CBC’s reporting stood at 5,782.

While most cases of coronavirus are mild or moderate, some people — particularly the elderly or those with underlying health issues — are at higher risk of severe disease or death. There are no proven vaccines or treatments for the novel coronavirus, which causes an illness called COVID-19. 

Here’s what’s happening in the provinces and territories:

Newfoundland and Labrador marked its ningth straight day without new cases on Saturday. There are eight active cases remaining in the province, and 249 people have recovered from the virus. Read more about what’s happeneing in N.L.

Nova Scotia identified three more cases on Saturday. To date, there have been 1,037 positive COVID-19 cases, 930 recoveries and 55 deaths.

The province is entering the second phase of reopening, Chief Medical Health Officer Dr. Robert Strang announced Friday. The province is introducing an immediate-family bubble, which would let two households come together without physical distancing. Read more about what’s happening in N.S.

New Brunswick reported one more COVID-19 recovery on Saturday, for a total of 120 recoveries, meaning all cases in the provinces have been resolved. It has been 10 days since the province has reported any new cases. But Dr. Jennifer Russell is reminding the public to protect themselves over the upcoming long weekend by keeping to their respective two-family-household bubbles and following physical distance guidelines. Read more about what’s happening in New Brunswick. 

In Prince Edward Island, more restrictions are being eased this weekend. The province’s palliative-care facilities will be increasing the number of designated visitors allowed for compassionate reasons. Beginning Saturday, up to two visitors per patient will be permitted in palliative care, intensive care, neonatal intensive care, obstetrics and pediatric care.

P.E.I. has had no confirmed cases in the past 17 days. All 27 previous cases have recovered. Read More about what’s happening in P.E.I.

WATCH | Lobster fishermen must learn how to physically distance on a small boat:

‘It’s a different year,’ as new safety protocols are required because of COVID-19, says Steve Watts,  a fisherman from Prince Edward Island. 3:18

The Quebec government is donating one million masks to the greater Montreal region and $6 million in funding for public transit in the region, Premier François Legault announced Friday. Meanwhile, four Canadian soldiers serving in Quebec long-term care homes have tested positive for COVID-19, as did one soldier assisting with long-term care homes in Ontario. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau confirmed news of the infections at his Friday morning media availability but did not provide details.

“There are always risks in what they do and they go into that knowingly and willingly, and that is why we offer them our deepest gratitude every day,” Trudeau said. Read more about what’s happening in Quebec

An Amazon warehouse is seen north of Calgary in Balzac, Alta., on May 4. (Jeff McIntosh/The Canadian Press)

In Ontario, a Hamilton retirement home has been emptied of its staff and residents after 49 residents and 13 staff members tested positive, and one resident died.

“It’s been cleared out at this point,” said Dr. Ninh Tran, associate medical officer of health for the city, adding it’s the first time he’s aware of a home in Hamilton being emptied after an outbreak. “It’s clearly something very significant and given the situation that was arising it was the right thing to do.”

Fifty-two people at the 64-bed Rosslyn Retirement Residence have been transported to hospital, according to a statement from St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton Saturday. Tran said two other residents found places to stay with family or friends. Read more about what’s happening in Ontario.

Members of the Canadian Armed Forces are shown at Residence Yvon-Brunet, a long-term care home in Montreal, on Saturday. (Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press)

Manitoba marked its fifth straight day with no new cases on Saturday. Two people in the province are in hospital with the illness, one of whom is in intensive care, the province said in a news release on Saturday afternoon.

The release said many community testing sites will keep their regular schedules during the long weekend. On Monday, the Sargent Tommy Prince Place testing site and assessment clinic in Winnipeg will be open, as will the Bison Drive drive-thru site. Read more about what’s happening in Manitoba. 

In Saskatchewan, medical health officer Dr. Rim Zayed declared the outbreak at the La Loche Health Centre to be over after going 28 days without a new case.  

The outbreak was declared on April 17, 2020. At least five people at that centre contracted virus. There are still more than 100 positive cases in the northern Saskatchewan community itself. Read more about what’s happening in Saskatchewan.

WATCH | Sask. teacher retrofits truck into portable classroom:

Alberta is relaxing restrictions around outdoor gatherings, Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw announced Friday. Outdoor gatherings can now consist of as many as 50 people, as long as members of different households stay two metres apart. 

Earlier, Hinshaw said the province should know within a week if yesterday’s reopening of bars, restaurants and some other businesses in most areas will lead to a surge in new cases. Read more about what’s happening in Alberta

In British Columbia, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced 21 new on Saturday, bringing the total to 2,428. One additional person has died, bringing the total number of deaths to 141. There are no new community outbreaks, but the province continues to monitor an ongoing outbreak at Abbotsford Regional Hospital, where six staff and two patients have tested positive. Read more about what’s happening in B.C.

WATCH | B.C. announces part-time, voluntary return to school starting June 1:

The Northwest Territories is entering the first phase of its COVID-19 recovery plan, affecting both indoor and outdoor gatherings, as well as the reopening of some businesses. Read more about what’s happening across the North, including Yukon’s announcement that they will also begin to ease restrictions.

Here’s a look at what’s happening around the world

As of 6:30 a.m. ET on Sunday, there were more than 4.6 million confirmed cases of coronvirus around the world, according to a database tracking system maintained by the coronavirus resource centre at Johns Hopkins University. More than 1.4 million cases are in the United States.

According to the tracking system, COVID-19 has killed roughly 312,000 people globally. It says the 10 most affected countries at this time, based on the reported number of deaths, are the U.S., the U.K., Italy, France, Spain, Brazil, Belgium, Germany, Iran and Canada.


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