OTTAWA -- Several provinces began to slowly loosen lockdown restrictions on Monday as Ottawa pledged $850 million for the international fight against COVID-19.

Quebec, which accounts for more than half of Canada's coronavirus cases, including deaths from the illness, was reopening retail stores outside Montreal while those in the greater Montreal area are to reopen next Monday.

Ontario, the other virus epicentre, was allowing a few mostly seasonal businesses to reopen, including garden centres with curbside pickups, lawn care and landscaping companies, and automatic car washes.

Manitoba's museums, libraries and retail businesses -- including restaurant patios -- were also to reopen, although at half capacity. The province, along with Saskatchewan and Alberta, was also allowing non-essential medical activities such as dentistry and physiotherapy to resume.

The Cargill beef-processing plant south of Calgary resumed its business after it was shut down for two weeks because of a extensive COVID-19 outbreak. Nearly half the plant's 2,000 workers have tested positive for the novel coronavirus.

The union that represents the workers held a rally on the edge of the property and handed out black face masks emblazoned with "Safety First" to anyone who needed them.

United Food and Commercial Workers Local 401, arguing conditions are unsafe for workers, is seeking a stop-work order at Cargill. Hearings before the Labour Relations Board began on the weekend and were to continue Monday.

British Columbia has yet to release its reopening plan; however, Premier John Horgan is promising details this week.

The Maritime provinces, where COVID-19 caseloads have been trending downward, began relaxing some restrictions over the last week, primarily in the areas of public health services and outdoor recreation.

Newfoundland and Labrador plans to loosen some of its public health and recreation restrictions next Monday.

Even though some lockdown restrictions are being eased, physical-distancing rules and guidelines still apply.

Also Monday, Canada pledged $850 million to bolster international efforts to develop a COVID-19 vaccine and treatment, as well as for aid for developing countries.

The European Union organized a pledge conference in an effort to fill the World Health Organization's funding gaps.

The goal is to raise $11.5 billion for vaccine and treatment options for COVID-19 and make them available and affordable worldwide.

Canada has confirmed nearly 60,000 cases of the illness, including nearly 3,800 deaths.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 4, 2020