With no new cases, N.L. readies for new reopening phase on Monday
Some businesses can reopen, some child care can resume
Newfoundland and Labrador reported no new cases of COVID-19 on Friday, leaving the province's total at 261.
As of Friday 244 people have recovered from the virus, with 9,592 tested — 134 since yesterday's daily COVID-19 briefing.
The province still looks to move to Level 4 of its reopening plan on Monday to begin easing public health restrictions in place since March.
Watch the full May 8 update:
Dr. Janice Fitzgerald, the province's chief medical officer of health, said if new cases remain low over the Mother's Day weekend Monday's target will be a go.
"This is a considerable milestone," she said. "As we … move to this next phase of living with COVID-19 we must continue to follow the evidence-based prevention practices that have served us so well so far."
Some relaxation of restrictions have already been outlined by Fitzgerald, including:
- Low-risk outdoor recreational activities — including golf, hunting and fishing — may resume, provided they're done so safely.
- Low-risk non-essential businesses — such as law firms, accounting firms, and outdoor businesses like garden centres and landscaping services — can reopen.
- Resumption of some medical procedures.
- Funerals and weddings with a maximum of 10 people, including the officiant, will be allowed. However, wakes and visitations are still prohibited.
- Limited expansion of child-care centres.
The provincial government will issue its daily COVID-19 numbers by news release on Saturday and Sunday. Briefings will resume Monday.
Fitzgerald teared up a little as she wished mothers across the province a special Mother's Day.
The chief medical officer said the last three months have been challenging in dealing with the pandemic, adding there are many mothers on her staff who have been working tirelessly the entire time.
"I certainly would like to send out my best to all of them," Fitzgerald said. "I know that for a lot of us COVID has been in our lives since the middle of March, but for a lot of us on the public health team COVID has been in our lives since Snowmageddon."
Daily life regulated
Health Minister John Haggie said as restrictions begin to lift, the provincial government is beginning to regulate almost every aspect of daily life, adding some people are rightly concerned.
"I think people are seeking certainty, where all we can provide is some degree of public health clarity," he said.
"I think next week we'll see that increasingly becoming a subject of debate as who gets what, in what order and why, and I think people need to be aware that the decisions we make are based on public health principles, guidance and instruction from public health."
Haggie said businesses need to filter government's regulations through their own perspective when the province moves through each level of its reopening plan, and that public health officials are available to guide those businesses in reopening.
"I'm sure at the end of the day a third of the people will like what we do, a third of the people will hate what we do, and the rest in the middle probably won't have a strong opinion one way or another," the health minister said.
The debate on when post-secondary institutions can reopen, under which alert level, is still ongoing, said Fitzgerald. Variations in class sizes will make determining how many people can be in a room challenging, she said.
"For right now, certainly, we recommend that any learning through post-secondary that has to happen be online or virtual as much as possible, recognizing of course that some programs need to have some hands-on teaching. Those situations are being assessed," she said.
Ball said some post-secondary institutions are already planning for the fall semester under varying scenarios.