6th straight day with no new cases of COVID-19 in N.L.
Province reiterates restrictions heading into long weekend
For a sixth straight day Newfoundland and Labrador reported no new cases of COVID-19.
The province's total caseload remains 261, with 11 active cases as of Wednesday's daily update.
The province has tested 10,152 people — 100 since Tuesday's update. There are 198 health-care professionals in self-isolation.
Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Janice Fitzgerald said the province has done well in containing the virus in the two weeks since residents were allowed to double their household bubbles
"This is, to each of our credit, our own ongoing collaborative efforts and discipline in following the current public health measures that are in place," she said.
"As long as we continue to do so, we slowly but surely move through the provincial COVID-19 alert system."
Watch the full May 13 update:
With the May 24 long weekend approaching, Fitzgerald reiterated the restrictions on gatherings under Alert Level 4, which began Monday.
Gatherings of up to 10 people for funerals, weddings and workplace training can occur, but food and beverages are not to be served, and waste bins and handwashing stations are mandatory. Physical distancing is still necessary, she said, and people may attend only if they are not symptomatic for the virus. People older than 60 with chronic health conditions should consider not attending gatherings at all.
Extended family gatherings, picnics and backyard barbecues are still prohibited.
Fitzgerald said the province is encouraging outdoor activities, within people's own bubbles, over the long weekend. Activities such as hiking and bike rides are fine, she said.
Premier Dwight Ball said he plans to return to his district in Deer Lake for the weekend. He said it will be his first time home since the pandemic began to affect Newfoundland and Labrador in early March.
Private campgrounds and RV parks won't be allowed to open for overnight stays until Alert Level 2. However, Fitzgerald said if groups and organizations can outline ways for those sites to mitigate risks, the province will consider opening them sooner than Level 2.
Health Minister John Haggie said finding ways to live with COVID-19 is the new reality.
"COVID-19 is here, it is here to stay for at least 18 months or two years. It currently has no vaccine, it currently has no cure and there is no specific treatment that can be provided," he said.
"The challenge now is to pace ourselves and to use the discipline that we've shown over the last 11 weeks.… Because if we rush it, we will wreck it, and we will end up back where we were four or five weeks ago."
Level 3 and beyond
Fitzgerald said guidelines are being developed to help businesses waiting to open under Level 3 of the province's reopening plan. She said the province is working with its business development team to finalize the plans.
When asked for an update on the province's COVID-19 contact tracing app, Haggie said the work is still being done, but he predicts the software will be in app stores within three to four weeks.
On Wednesday morning, the province's four regional health authorities announced plans to resume some medical procedures following the restriction of services to combat the spread of the virus.
Haggie said at the briefing he doesn't know how long it will take for the health authorities to move through the backlog of about 5,500 deferred surgical procedures.
"That group will not go down as fast because we're starting slowly," he said.
"It really depends as well, as whether or not when we get to the next decision gate in 25 days, whether or not we're actually able to move to Alert Level 3 as well. I think it would be premature to give you a time frame."
Haggie said people are still allowed to leave the province for an urgent medical procedure.