Nfld. & Labrador

N.L. enters 3rd week with no new positive cases, loosens some restrictions

Newfoundland and Labrador has four active cases, according to the most recent numbers provided Friday afternoon. Three of those patients are in hospital.

The province has 4 active cases

Premier Dwight Ball said Newfoundland and Labrador will move to three live briefings a week on COVID-19, after 15 straight days of new positive cases. (Government of Newfoundland and Labrador)

Newfoundland and Labrador has made it through one full incubation period of COVID-19 without a single new reported case, as Friday marked 15 days straight without one. 

The province's caseload has stalled at 260, with 253 people recovered. There are four active cases.

As of Friday's briefing 11,105 people have been tested — 122 in the last 24 hours.

As the province heads into the weekend, the provincial government will issue its regular COVID-19 updates through news releases on Saturday and Sunday. But a further change is coming beginning next week. 

Premier Dwight Ball announced Friday the provincial government will hold briefings on a Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays schedule and issue news releases on Tuesdays and Thursdays. 

Watch the full May 22 update:

"There's a big focus on time management of our public health officials. So this is a consideration of the workload that has increased with them as we open up our province and our economy," Ball said.

"This will give them the time to do the important work as we start operating in what will be a new normal for Newfoundland and Labrador."

Ball said if things change — a surge in new cases, for example — the daily panel will resume. 

Intensive care

Maintaining health-care capacity has been a priority for the provincial government throughout the pandemic.

Health Minister John Haggie said intensive-care patients, particularly those with COVID-19, need to be considered when working out the amount and supply of beds needed in the event of another wave of the virus. 

"If one individual is going to occupy an intensive-care bed because of COVID-related issues for three weeks that has significant implications on bed availability," he said.

"It's a challenge because people criticize you and say, 'Well, you've got all these empty beds here, what are you doing about sick patients?' and the answer is it's a balance. There is no playbook for this. But it shows you very clearly, that this, for some people, is not a disease to be trifled with."  

Some restrictions eased

Newfoundland and Labrador is now two weeks into Alert Level 4 of its reopening plan. 

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Janice Fitzgerald said prevention measures will be even more important as the province looks to move to Level 3, tentatively on June 8.

"We are all very eager to resume our normal routines, and these activities we enjoy, and continuing to practise these measures will allow us to do so," she said.

Fitzgerald announced the reopening of some services. Effective immediately, she said, outdoor tennis courts may reopen, and pet grooming services may resume Monday — both with some restrictions. 

For tennis, players are required to bring and label their own equipment and are prohibited from sharing equipment with other players. Physical distancing must be maintained. Doubles play may happen with members of your own bubble.

Pet grooming services must ensure advanced cleaning protocols and have policies in place to ensure physical distancing. Businesses must also screen for potential COVID-19 exposure and staff must wear appropriate personal protective equipment.

Dentists can start seeing regular patients again as early as June 8.

Camping

Fitzgerald said limited overnight camping will be permitted when the province reaches Alert Level 3.

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Janice Fitzgerald announced Friday that looser rules are coming for tennis players, pet groomers and campers. (Government of Newfoundland and Labrador)

"Access will be limited to self-contained units including RVs or cabins that have a water supply, holding tanks and personal washroom facilities as long as they are located in an area with at least 30 feet between occupied camp sites," she said.

"Tent camping will not be permitted in Level 3. Campground owners should have policies in place to ensure physical distancing recommendations are maintained and offer contactless services where possible."

All shared facilities, such as washrooms, showers, cook houses, playgrounds and club houses must remain closed. Campground owners are also responsible for developing communications plans to ensure campers are aware of the rules and preventive measures. 

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

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