More pandemic restrictions lift, but Ontario keeps schools closed

The latest:

Schools in Ontario won’t be reopening this school year because of the ongoing threat from the COVID-19 pandemic, Premier Doug Ford announced Tuesday.

“The safety of our children is my top priority,” Ford said. “We cannot open schools at this time. I’m just not going to risk it.”

Students in Ontario have been out of class since mid-March as the province tries to control the COVID-19 pandemic. The province launched an online learning portal several weeks later, and teachers have been trying to continue lessons in various ways.

The premier’s announcement comes as Ontario and many other parts of Canada begin reopening.

An employee puts up a sign during a phased reopening in Toronto on Tuesday. (Carlos Osorio/Reuters)

Ontario on Tuesday is allowing retail stores with street-facing entrances to reopen. Provincial officials are expected to make an announcement about the rest of the school year in the afternoon.

The province also announced Tuesday that it will launch an independent commission into the province’s long-term care system in the fall. Long-term care facilities have been the site of several devastating, deadly outbreaks in Ontario and several other provinces, including Quebec, B.C., Alberta and Nova Scotia.

In B.C., restaurant owners are allowed to open their dining rooms starting Tuesday, but customers and workers are in for a different experience, with restaurants cutting back capacity and following stepped-up public health guidelines.

The protocols include moving to disposable or big board menus, limiting the number of people at a table and keeping space between customers at different tables.

A barber works on a customer at a newly reopened shop in Burnaby, B.C., on Tuesday. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said she understands there will be anxiety as B.C. moves to its next phase of reopening, in which a range of businesses open their doors for potentially the first time in several months. 

“I would say, ‘Take it slow,”‘ she said Monday. People are still learning about safer ways of having social interactions and “doing things we’ve never had to do before.” 

In Saskatchewan, stores, hairstylists and massage therapists are allowed to open their doors, also with restrictions on how many people can be in a space and guidelines around hygiene. Hairstylists operating in Saskatchewan, for example, will need to wear a face mask, a face shield and an apron.

A health-care worker is seen at a mobile COVID-19 testing bus in Montreal on Tuesday. (Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press)

As of 1 p.m. ET on Tuesday, Canada had 79,070 confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID-19, with 39,522 cases considered recovered or resolved. A CBC News tally of coronavirus deaths based on provincial data, regional health information and CBC’s reporting stood at 5,944.

Speaking outside his home at Rideau Cottage on Tuesday morning, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Canada and the United States have agreed to extend their deal to keep the border closed to non-essential travel until June 21 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The restrictions were announced on March 18 and were extended in April. Trudeau said Canada’s provincial leaders clearly wanted to continue the measures.

WATCH | Canada-U.S. border will remain closed for another 30 days, says Trudeau:

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has announced the Canada-U.S. border will remain closed to non-essential travel — in part because the provinces expressed a “clear desire” to keep it closed due to the risk of COVID-19 cases moving north. 2:17

Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer, said Tuesday that even with slow growth of the epidemic, Canada is “not out of the woods — no country is.”

Around noon Tuesday, there were more than 4.8 million reported cases of coronavirus worldwide, with more than 1.5 million of those in the U.S., according to a Johns Hopkins University tracking tool. The death toll cited by the Baltimore-based university stood at more than 319,000 worldwide, with more than 90,000 of those in the U.S.

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. The Public Health Agency of Canada says the risk associated with the coronavirus varies between communities, “but given the increasing number of cases in Canada, the risk to Canadians is considered high.”

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

British Columbia enters Phase 2 of its reopening plan on Tuesday, which allows a range of businesses including restaurants, retail, medically related services, hair salons and offices to reopen. Organizations like museums, art galleries and libraries are also listed in the province’s Phase 2 plan, as are parks, beaches and child care. Though the businesses are allowed to open, the plan provided by the province still calls on people to stay close to home. Read more about what’s happening in B.C.

WATCH | Cities verging on financial crisis with rising costs, reduced revenue:

Canadian cities are on the verge of a potential financial crisis caused by dropping revenues and rising costs during the COVID-19 pandemic, and they’re asking the federal government to step in. 1:52

Alberta reported 39 new coronavirus cases and one additional death on Monday, bringing the province’s total caseload to 6,683 cases and 128 deaths. The province lists 5,519 cases as recovered or resolved. Read more about what’s happening in Alberta.

Saskatchewan had no new coronavirus cases on Monday, something Premier Scott Moe said hadn’t happened in the province since March 15. Read more about what’s happening in Saskatchewan as more businesses are allowed to reopen.

Manitoba reported one new case of COVID-19 on Monday, ending a six-day stretch of no new cases. Read more about what’s happening in Manitoba.

Some Ontario businesses will be allowed to open their doors Tuesday after being closed for two months in an effort to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus. The province is giving the green light to retailers, some sports centres, vehicle dealerships and other businesses to resume. Read more about what’s happening in Ontario, where health officials reported 427 new cases on Tuesday.

In Quebec, Premier François Legault said Monday that the situation in the Greater Montreal area has stabilized enough to allow retail stores to open on May 25 as planned. Daycares will open on June 1, with a limited number of spaces in order to meet distancing requirements, he said. Read more about what’s happening in Quebec.

People line up at a mobile COVID-19 testing clinic in Montreal on Tuesday. (Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press)

New Brunswick reported no new coronavirus cases on Tuesday, marking 13 days straight with no new cases. The province has no active cases, health officials say. Read more about what’s happening in N.B.

Nova Scotia reported one new coronavirus case and one new death on Tuesday, bringing the provincial total to 1,044 cases, with 956 of those considered recovered. The province has reported 56 coronavirus deaths, with the majority of those at a Halifax long-term care home, including the death announced on Tuesday. Read more about what’s happening in Nova Scotia.

On Prince Edward Island, which has no active COVID-19 cases, people who have had the virus are being asked to donate plasma for a clinical trial. Read more about what’s happening on P.E.I.

Newfoundland and Labrador had no new coronavirus cases on Tuesday, marking 12 days in a row without any new cases in the province. Read more about what’s happening in N.L.

A Nunavut resident who is currently out of the territory getting medical treatment has tested positive for COVID-19“We are confident this poses minimal risk of bringing the virus to Nunavut, as any travellers who might have come into contact with the patient have to isolate for 14 days prior to their return to Nunavut,” Dr. Michael Patterson, the territory’s chief public health officer, said in a news release. Read more about what’s happening across the North.

Here’s what’s happening around the world

WATCH | Trump says he’s taking hydroxychloroquine as a preventative measure:

U.S. President Donald Trump has revealed he is preventatively taking hydroxychloroquine, a malaria drug that is not proven to be effective in fighting COVID-19. 1:58

WATCH | Infectious disease specialist tackles key topics related to COVID-19:

Dr. Isaac Bogoch says a small, new vaccine trial by a U.S. company has passed some preliminary hurdles, but notes ‘it’s very, very early’ on the path to finding a safe vaccine. 7:17

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