Travellers are directed to take a mandatory COVID-19 test after arriving on an international flight at Pearson International Airport during the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto on Monday, February 1, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

‘This is being done slowly’: Provinces balance reopenings and vaccination progress

‘This is being done slowly’: Provinces balance reopenings and vaccination progress

Many provinces are setting their sights on reopening as Canada’s COVID-19 vaccination pace brings optimism, but leaders are warning that those plans could be curtailed if people don’t get their shots.

Canada was expected to move ahead of the United States on Thursday in the percentage of the population to have received one dose of a vaccine.

“Canada’s vaccination campaign continues to soar,” said Dr. Howard Njoo, deputy chief public health officer.

Njoo said more than 55 per cent of eligible adults have been vaccinated at least once.

New COVID-19 modelling for Ontario released Thursday showed those vaccination efforts, along with a stay-at-home order, have put the province in a much better place than it was a few weeks ago.

Premier Doug Ford announced his Progressive Conservative government’s three-step reopening plan to lift public health restrictions based on vaccination rates and other indicators starting in mid-June.

“This is being done slowly and with extreme caution,” Ford said. “This is the only way it will work.”

Easing measures will bring challenges and people must remain cautious, said Dr. Adalsteinn Brown, a member of the Ontario COVID-19 Science Advisory Table.

“These are all challenging trade-offs and none of them are without risk.”

There were 2,400 new cases Thursday and 27 more deaths linked to the virus.

Quebec and Saskatchewan have also released reopening strategies as those provinces have experienced reduced infections and hospitalizations.

Quebec’s plan, released earlier this week, involves lifting COVID-19 curfews later this month and removing a mask mandate by late August.

The province expects to gradually allow bars and restaurants to reopen starting with some patios on May 28.

Quebec reported 662 new cases and eight more deaths Thursday.

The province has also expanded vaccine eligibility to young people between 12 and 17 with a goal to having them all receive two doses by the time the next school year starts at the end of August.

British Columbia health officials are also encouraging youth to register for their first dose. The province marked its lowest daily case count since February with 357 new infections.

In Manitoba, Premier Brian Pallister warned that surging cases there are linked to people not getting their shots and announced tighter health measures ahead of the May long weekend.

From Saturday morning until Wednesday morning, social gatherings between members of different households will be banned — even outdoors

“COVID is evil. It robs your breath. It robs your strength. It robs your freedoms. It can take your life,” an emotional Pallister said during a news conference.

“There are real consequences to getting COVID and I don’t want those consequences to happen to you.”

A delayed third wave has put immense pressure on health care in Manitoba, where a record number of people are in intensive care and the daily case count hit a record 603 Thursday. There were three more deaths.

Pallister said health officials have told him that most people getting infected and hospitalized have not been vaccinated.

All leaders are counting on vaccine availability continuing to increase.

About 1.4 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine were to be delivered ahead of schedule on Thursday and Friday. But the Public Health Agency of Canada said it is no longer confident it will receive another six to eight million doses of the Moderna vaccine next month.

Njoo said advice on whether provinces can mix and match vaccine types should be ready in the first week of June.

In Alberta, changes were made Thursday to quarantine rules for people who have been vaccinated.

Chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said those fully vaccinated for at least two weeks will no longer have to isolate — even if exposed to a positive case — as long as they don’t have symptoms.

Albertans who have received a first dose and show no symptoms face a shortened quarantine period.

The province recorded 812 new cases and four more deaths.

On the national front, federal Public Safety Minister Bill Blair said restrictions on non-essential international travel, including to the United States, are being extended until at least June 21.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 20, 2021.

Kelly Geraldine Malone, The Canadian Press


Just Posted

Mental health support centre in central Alberta to receive funding

Shoppers Drug Mart is lending support to the Canadian Mental Health Association.… Continue reading

Downtown Red Deer was packed with people who lined the streets to watch the Westerner Days parade on Wednesday. (Photo by SUSAN ZIELINSKI/Advocate staff)
Westerner Days parade cancelled, full details on modified event coming June 28

The 2021 edition of Westerner Days will look much different than any… Continue reading

City council wants to hear from the public at a May 25 hearing about whether the temporary homeless shelter should be allowed to remain in the downtown for another year. (Advocate file photo).
City of Red Deer staff to recommend another extension to allow operations at current temporary shelter site

Following some more research city administration has received no other new locations… Continue reading

A scene from the short Western ‘Cheaters, Robbers and Outlaws,’ written and directed by Jason Steele, with support from Telus Storyhive. (Contributed image)
Red Deerians make ‘Cheaters, Robbers and Outlaws’ short Western film

Writer and director Jason Steele received a $20,000 Storyhive grant from Telus

Residents in several neighbourhoods reported little to no water pressure Tuesday night. (File photo by Advocate staff)
City hall to reopen for payments and customer service

Red Deer City Hall will reopen on June 21 for utility and… Continue reading

Harley Hay
Harley Hay: You can’t trust Mondays

Monday isn’t my favourite day. It insists on occurring right after a… Continue reading

Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price stops Vegas Golden Knights' William Karlsson as he is covered by Canadiens' Joel Edmundson during first period of Game 3 of the NHL Stanley Cup semifinal Friday, June 18, 2021 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
Andreson’s timely scoring, Price’s goaltending give Habs 2-1 series lead over Vegas

Canadiens 3 Golden Knights 2 (OT) (Montreal leads series 2-1) MONTREAL —… Continue reading

Atlanta Hawks guard Trae Young (11) is defended by Philadelphia 76ers guard Ben Simmons (25) as he looks for an opening during the first half of Game 6 of an NBA basketball Eastern Conference semifinal series Friday, June 18, 2021, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
Curry, Harris help 76ers stay alive, hold off Hawks 104-99

76ers 104 Hawks 99 (Series tied 3-3) ATLANTA — Seth Curry hit… Continue reading

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is seen during a joint news conference following the EU-Canada Summit, in Brussels, Belgium, Tuesday June 15, 2021. Trudeau says Canada is on track now to have 68 million doses delivered by the end of July, which is more than enough to fully vaccinate all 33.2 million Canadians over the age of 12. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Vaccine deliveries enough to fully vaccinate all eligible Canadians by end of July

OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s promise of a two-dose fall is… Continue reading

Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, speaks during a press conference in Ottawa, Thursday, May 13, 2021. Mendicino has announced a new policy to help settle 500 refugees and their families in a news conference today. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada to welcome 45,000 refugees this year: Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino

Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino announced plans to expedite applications and increase the… Continue reading

Louis Oosthuizen, of South Africa, plays his shot from the third tee during the second round of the U.S. Open Golf Championship, Friday, June 18, 2021, at Torrey Pines Golf Course in San Diego. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
Bland leads at Torrey and shows the US Open is truly open

SAN DIEGO — The U.S. Open prides itself on being the most… Continue reading

The Prime Minister's car waits outside the National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg Tuesday, May 19, 2009. The head of the Public Health Agency of Canada is showing no sign he'll release unredacted documents about the firing of two scientists at Canada's highest security laboratory — despite the prospect of being publicly shamed in the House of Commons for his refusal to turn them over. THE CANADIAN PRESS/John Woods
PHAC head maintains he’s bound by law not to release docs on fired scientists

OTTAWA — The head of the Public Health Agency of Canada is… Continue reading

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam listens to a question during a news conference, in Ottawa, Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2021. The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases attributed to the highly contagious Delta variant grew in Canada this week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Public health agency reports spike in confirmed cases of Delta variant in Canada

OTTAWA — The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases attributed to the highly… Continue reading

Most Read