More COVID-19 restrictions being lifted across the country

More COVID-19 restrictions being lifted across the country

Some Quebec schools were reopening and more Ontario retailers were offering curbside pickup on Monday as Ottawa promised to help some of the country’s biggest employers stay afloat during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Quebec, which accounts for more than half of the country’s roughly 69,000 novel coronavirus cases, was reopening elementary schools and daycares outside the Montreal area.

Quebec students were to be subject to physical distancing and frequent hand-washing, while school officials were to follow public health guidelines for cleaning and disinfection.

Attendance, however, was not mandatory, and two school boards told The Canadian Press that most of their students would be staying home for now.

Quebec was also allowing most retail stores outside Montreal to open today, but pushed back the opening date for schools and other businesses in the hard-hit metropolis to May 25 as case numbers there remained high.

Meanwhile, Ontario was allowing non-essential retail stores to open for curbside pickup. Hardware and safety supply stores reopened on the weekend.

Ontario also opened its provincial parks, although visitors were to adhere to physical-distancing rules. Park camping grounds, beaches and playgrounds remained closed.

Newfoundland and Labrador was allowing some medical procedures to resume Monday, as well as activities such as golf, hunting and fishing. Low-risk businesses, including garden centres, and professional services, such as law firms, could also reopen.

Alberta is planning to allow some retail stores to open this week, while Saskatchewan and Manitoba began to gradually reopen last week.

British Columbia is phasing in the resumption of certain health services, retail outlets, restaurants, salons and museums in mid-May.

Also Monday, the Liberal government promised bridge financing to companies, whose financial needs aren’t being met by conventional credit, so that they can stay open and keep employees on their payrolls.

Another goal of the program, aimed at companies with $300 million or more in revenues, is to avoid bankruptcies of otherwise viable firms wherever possible.

Rules on access to the money are to place limits on dividends, share buy-backs and executive pay.

Any companies convicted of tax evasion won’t be eligible for the money, which will be open to all sectors of the economy.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 11, 2020

Lauren Krugel, The Canadian Press