Waiting for life to return to pre-pandemic normal? 'It won't,' PM says
OTTAWA -- Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says that "normal" is a "long way off" for all Canadians — and that some differences implemented as a result of lessons learned during this pandemic will last for "years."
"If we want life to get back to the way it was exactly before, it won't," Trudeau said, speaking to reporters from the front steps of Rideau Cottage on Monday.
"There will be differences, even a few years from now, that we will have learned from dealing with this global pandemic that I think will be important lessons."
His comments come as the prime minister is working with the provinces to establish a set of guidelines for reopening to any semblance of normal public life. Trudeau said those guidelines will include ensuring effective contact tracing for cases of COVID-19 and an assurance that provinces have enough personal protective equipment.
Still, some provinces are forging ahead with announcements of more precise timelines for their own reopenings.
Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe took the plunge last Thursday, laying out his five-step plan that includes golf courses reopening in mid-May. Ontario Premier Doug Ford and Quebec Premier Francois Legault also announced their provincial reopening plans on Monday.
"As we move forward over the coming months, we will be able to see careful reopenings in certain sectors of the economy, certain things being allowed as people try to get back to something a little more like normal," Trudeau said.
Still, Trudeau warned that without a vaccine or a treatment that reduces the disease's lethality, Canadians will have to continue to be very careful.
"That caution will remain because at any time, if we loosen our measures too much, we could find ourselves back in a tremendous spike," Trudeau said.
"Historians remember from the 1918 Spanish Flu epidemic that the spring was pretty bad, but the fall was much worse. We need to stay vigilant every step of the way."
Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland, speaking to reporters on Monday, also echoed Trudeau's remarks that the reopening of Canada's economy will be undertaken with caution.
"We are actively discussing reopening plans with our provincial and territorial partners. I want to reassure Canadians that this process will be gradual, it will be collaborative, and it will be guided by science and our obligation to protect the health and safety of Canadians," Freeland said.
Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam acknowledged on Monday that she and many other Canadians might be feeling like a kid on a long car drive, asking whether we've arrived at our destination yet.
"I'm sorry to say we are not quite there yet, and though we are getting closer all the time, we can't let go of the wheel yet," Tam said.