How Provinces Plan to Emerge From COVID-19 Shutdown

May 16, 2020 Updated: May 16, 2020

Provinces have been releasing plans for easing restrictions that were put in place to limit the spread of COVID-19.

Here is what some of the provinces have announced so far:

Newfoundland and Labrador

Newfoundland and Labrador lifted some of the public health restrictions imposed to slow the spread of COVID-19 on Monday. The province is entering “alert level four” in its five-level reopening plan, allowing some businesses such as law firms and other professional services to reopen along with regulated childcare centers, with some restrictions. Small gatherings for funerals, burials, and weddings are also permitted with a limit of 10 people following physical distancing rules. Municipal parks, golf courses, and driving ranges can open and recreational hunting and fishing are permitted. Officials are reminding people that the new rules do not allow for parties or other social gatherings.

The province is loosening restrictions in a series of “alert levels” descending from five. The current alert level is to remain in place for at least 28 days. At Level 3, private health clinics, such as optometrists and dentists, are to be permitted to open, as well as medium-risk businesses such as clothing stores and hair salons. At Level 2, some small gatherings will be allowed, and businesses with performance spaces and gyms are to reopen. Level 1 would represent “the new normal.”

Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil has announced there will be no return to school this year. He also says a decision on whether day cares will reopen will be made by June 8. Nova Scotia has eased some public health restrictions, however directives around physical distancing and social gatherings remain in place. Trails and provincial and municipal parks can now reopen, but playground equipment is still off limits. Garden centers, nurseries, and similar businesses can open, and while golf driving ranges can open, courses remain closed. Sportfishing is permitted and people can attend boating, yacht, or sailing clubs for the purpose of preparing boats for use. Drive-in religious services are now allowed, as long as people stay in their cars, park two metres apart, and there are no interactions between people.

Prince Edward Island

PEI is accelerating its Renew PEI Together plan. Phase two of the plan will still begin May 22 as scheduled, but the third phase will now begin June 1 instead of June 12. Phase three will allow gatherings of up to 15 people indoors and 20 people outdoors, organized recreational activities, and the opening of child care centres and in-room dining. Members of a household can currently gather indoors with up to five other people. Other precautions, such as physical distancing, remain in place. Screening also continues at points of entry into the province and all people coming into PEI are required to isolate for 14 days. Priority non-urgent surgeries and select health-service providers, including physiotherapists, optometrists, and chiropractors, resumed on May 1. The Renew PEI Together plan also allows outdoor gatherings and non-contact outdoor recreational activities of no more than five individuals from different households.

New Brunswick

New Brunswick’s education minister says licensed day cares can begin reopening May 19. Children won’t have to wear masks or maintain physical distancing, but they will be in small groups. Anyone who has travelled outside of New Brunswick will not be allowed to visit early learning and childcare facilities for 14 days. New Brunswick has allowed more businesses and services to open. Retail businesses, offices, restaurants, libraries, museums, and seasonal campgrounds can reopen under certain conditions. Those include having an operational plan that explains how they are meeting public health guidelines including physical distancing, hand hygiene, and allowing staff to remain home when ill. Outdoor gatherings of up to 10 people are also allowed if physical distancing is respected. The resumption of elective surgeries is also part of the province’s phase two of its reopening plan.

The third phase will allow regular church services, dentistry work, and reopened fitness centers. The final phase, which will probably come only after a vaccine is available, will include large gatherings. Phase one, which started on April 24, allowed limited play on golf courses as well as fishing and hunting. Post-secondary students were allowed to return if it was deemed safe by the school, and outdoor church services were again permitted, providing people remain in their vehicles and are two metres apart.

Epoch Times Photo
The Snowbirds, the Royal Canadian Air Force air acrobatics team, fly over Montreal in a morale-building tour of Canada called “Operation Inspiration” on May 7, 2020. (Sebastien St-Jean/AFP via Getty Images)


Quebec reopened retail stores outside Montreal on May 11. Lottery terminals have begun to reopen after being shut down on March 20 with sales moving to online only. Schools and day cares outside Montreal also reopened on May 11, but schools, junior colleges, and universities are to stay closed until September. Quebec’s construction industry has been opened and manufacturing resumed operations with limits on the total number of employees who can work per shift. Elementary schools in the greater Montreal area will remain closed until late August. Premier Francois Legault says public health conditions haven’t been met in the area hardest hit by the CCP virus, so Montreal day cares will also remain closed until at least June 1. Officials haven’t made a firm decision about what to do with retail businesses, scheduled to reopen May 25. Meanwhile, checkpoints set up to slow the spread of COVID-19 are coming down on May 18 in various parts of Quebec, including between Gatineau and Ottawa.

Coronavirus Pandemic Causes Climate Of Anxiety And Changing Routines In Canada
A ticket booth in town of Niagara Falls is seen during the CCP virus pandemic in Niagara Falls, Canada, on April 27 2020. (Emma McIntyre/Getty Images)


Ontario is set enter its first stage of reopening on May 19 including lifting restrictions on retail stores and surgeries. The province said workplaces can begin to reopen, but working from home should continue as much as possible. All construction can resume and limits will be lifted on maintenance, repair and property management services, such as cleaning, painting, and pool maintenance. Most retail stores that have a street entrance can open with physical distancing restrictions, such as limits on the number of customers in a store, booking appointments, and continuing to provide curbside pickup and delivery. Golf courses can now reopen, though clubhouses can only open for washrooms and take-out food. Marinas, boat clubs, and public boat launches can also open, as can private parks and campgrounds for trailers and RVs whose owners have a full season contract, and businesses that board animals. Other businesses and services included in the stage one reopening include regular veterinary appointments, pet grooming, pet sitting, and pet training; libraries for pickup or deliveries; and housekeepers and babysitters. Ontario has previously announced that publicly funded schools will be closed until at least May 31.


The Saskatchewan government’s five-phase plan to reopen parts of its economy started Monday with dentists, optometrists, and other health professionals being allowed to resume services. Phase 1 also includes reopened golf courses and campgrounds. Phase 2 will give the green light to retail businesses and salons. Restaurants and gyms could open in Phase 3, but with limited capacity. Phase 4 could see arenas, swimming pools, and playgrounds opening. In Phase 5, the province would consider lifting restrictions on the size of public gatherings.


The Manitoba government lifted its one-month limit on people’s prescription drug supplies on May 11, allowing people to get prescriptions filled or refilled for 90 days, which was the previous limit. A week earlier, Manitoba allowed health offices, including dentists, chiropractors, and physiotherapists to reopen. Retail businesses were allowed to reopen at half occupancy as long as they ensure physical spacing. Restaurants could reopen patios and walk-up service. Museums and libraries also reopened, but with occupancy limited to 50 percent. Playgrounds, golf courses, and tennis courts reopened as well, along with parks and campgrounds. A second phase is to begin no earlier than June 1. That’s when restaurants would be allowed to open indoor dining areas and non-contact children’s sports would resume. Mass gatherings such as concerts and major sporting events will not be considered before September. Meanwhile, Manitoba has extended a province-wide state of emergency until mid-June, to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.


In anticipation of the long weekend, Alberta is increasing the limit for outdoor gatherings to 50 people—up from 15. The province allowed stores, restaurants, day cares and hair salons to reopen across much of the province on May 14. But hair salons and restaurant dining rooms will reopen in Calgary and Brooks on May 25. Restaurants can only open at half capacity. Premier Jason Kenney says if the first stage of reopening goes well, the next phase—which includes movie theaters and spas—could go ahead on June 19. Alberta allowed some scheduled, non-urgent surgeries to start on May 11. Service provided by dentists, physiotherapists, and other medical professionals are also permitted. Golf courses reopened May 2, though pro shops and clubhouses remain shuttered.

British Columbia

The provincial government is allowing a partial reopening of the B.C. economy starting May 19, the day after the Victoria Day holiday. All the reopening plans are contingent on organizations and businesses having plans that follow provincial guidelines to control the spread of COVID-19. Hotels, resorts, and parks will follow in June. Parents in B.C. will be given the choice of allowing their children to return to class on a part-time basis in June. The government says its goal is for the return of full-time classes in September, if it’s safe. Under the part-time plan, for kindergarten to grade 5, most students will go to school half time, while grades 6 to 12 will go about one day a week. A mix of online and classroom post-secondary education is planned for September. Conventions, large concerts, international tourism, and professional sports with a live audience will not be allowed to resume until either a vaccine is widely available, community immunity has been reached, or effective treatment can be provided for the disease.

Northwest Territories

The Northwest Territories announced on May 12 a reopening plan that contains three phases, but the government didn’t say when it would be implemented. The plan includes more gatherings and the possible reopening of some schools and businesses. However, the territory’s borders remain closed indefinitely to non-residents and non-essential workers. There are several requirements that must be met before any measures are relaxed: there must be no evidence of community spread until today; travel entry points in the territory are strong and secure; risks are reduced from workers coming into the territory; and expanded community testing is available.


The territory’s reopening plan outlines five phases including a period after a vaccine is available. The plan’s “restart” phase began May 15, with businesses that were ordered to close allowed to reopen as long as they submit an operational plan. Two households of up to 10 people in total are also able to interact with each other as part of a “household bubble.” But bars and restaurants that offer dine-in services won’t be allowed to reopen until the chief medical officer of health lifts restrictions. The territory’s borders also remain closed but residents are allowed to travel throughout Yukon more easily.