Want to interact with people outside your home? As of today, residents of Newfoundland and Labrador can increase the bubbles in their homes during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Janice Fitzgerald on Thursday unveiled the province’s five-step plan to ease public health restrictions, including conditions that must be met as the province passes current conditions – level 5 – to live with COVID-19 – Level 1.
“We have chosen alert levels rather than stages or phases because we want people to remember that even if we can relax some of the measures that we put in place, we must always be alert, vigilant and aware” said Fitzgerald.
“We must remember that if any of our indicators show that our situation is worsening, we can tighten these restrictions, and we will not hesitate to do so. We can go down alert levels, but we can go up if we need to. “
Watch the full April 30 update:
The government’s alert system comes as the province marks the fourth consecutive day with no new COVID-19s, leaving the province’s total workload at 258.
Active cases remain at 30, with three deaths and 225 recoveries of the virus. There have been 8,376 people tested, an increase of 156 since Wednesday’s update. Four people are hospitalized because of the virus, two in intensive care.
The only immediate easing restriction is the expansion of the household bubble – people in the immediate group live and interact with public health restrictions.
As of today, households can choose another household to interact with, and each household can interact only with each other.
“I know that the six weeks have been really difficult and you have been incredibly patient. So I hope this will help reduce some of the social isolation that we all feel, especially those who live alone, “said Fitzgerald.
Difficult decisions will have to be made when choosing another household to partner with. Grandparents, for example, with grandchildren in more than one household, or with underlying health conditions, will have to decide whether it is wise to expand their bubble, said Fitzgerald.
“Families need to think about who they are joining and make sure they make these decisions in the best interest of the people,” she said.
“The fewer interactions outside of your bubble, the better. “
The provincial government has set May 11 as the target date for moving to level 4, provided that several conditions are met, including:
- No new cases with unknown source of infection.
- Tests are widely available.
- Early detection of outbreaks and imported cases.
- Capacity of the health system to manage the workload.
If the conditions are met, level 4 includes the relaxation of several restrictions:
- Low-risk outdoor recreational activities – including golf and hunting – can resume, provided they are done safely.
- Low-risk nonessential businesses – such as law firms, accounting firms, and outdoor businesses such as garden centers – can reopen.
- Resumption of certain medical procedures.
- Funerals for up to 10 people, including the officiant, will be allowed.
- Limited expansion of daycare centers.
No target date has been set for level 3 or below. Level 3 includes a new relaxation of public health orders:
- Private health care clinics – such as dentistry, optometry and physiotherapy – may reopen.
- Medium-risk businesses – such as clothing stores, hair salons, pet stores – may reopen.
- Restaurants can reopen with reduced occupancy.
- Medium-risk outdoor recreational activities – such as team sports – may resume.
- Continued expansion of daycare centers.
Level 2 provides for further relaxation of the restrictions:
- Small gatherings will be allowed, but there will be physical distance restrictions.
- High-risk businesses – large retailers, shopping centers, theaters, perhaps performance spaces – may reopen, subject to certain conditions.
- Medium risk recreational facilities – such as gymnasiums – may also reopen, also subject to certain conditions.
The government advises the public to prepare for life without mass gatherings, such as summer festivals, because the risk of epidemics, without a vaccine still available, is too great.
“I also want people to understand that we will almost certainly see more COVID-19 cases as we relax our measures. This is not unexpected, and we have the capacity in our public health and health care systems to respond, “Fitzgerald told me.
Fitzgerald said key public health measures will need to be maintained at each level. including maintaining hygiene, physical distance, using non-medical masks in public places, keeping at home in case of illness, working from home when possible, shopping online and l use of curbside pickup.
The self-isolation of anyone entering the province will remain in place, while limiting non-essential travel, limiting visits to hospitals, long-term care homes, personal care homes and nursing homes. Employees of these facilities are still not allowed to work on multiple sites.
Mass gatherings are still prohibited.
“It is not about defeating the virus, it is not about putting it behind us. It’s about living with it, adapting to it, and getting used to the fact that we have to be careful and do it differently, “said Health Minister John Haggie.
Premier Dwight Ball said that given the plan’s schedule, schools are unlikely to reopen by the end of the school year.
“There is still time here to continue learning until the end of the school year. “
Towns, cities plan slight reopening
Some municipalities are also expected to reopen their own resources.
The City of St. John’s announced in a press release that it will soon announce a plan to reopen municipal parks and a residential drop-off site at the Robin Hood Bay landfill. The city said Robin Hood Bay will take its own phased approach to reopening, but will not take any recycling, yard waste, loose items, household hazardous waste or electronics in the first phase.
The city said it expects the parks to open to the public next week, but playgrounds, sports facilities, skate parks, hard courts and dog parks will remain closed.
The City of Conception Bay South will reopen Topsail Beach Rotary Park and Worsley Park on May 11, but will keep public playgrounds, sports grounds and Sgt. Ned Nugent’s dog park has been closed for the moment.
Regular recycling at the curb in C.B.S. will resume Tuesday, with a limit of six bags per household.
The House of Assembly will also reopen on Tuesday to deal with urgent business, with a minimum number of members present.
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