Feds establishing guidelines to reopening economy, won't be as easy as 'flipping a switch': PM
OTTAWA -- In an effort to temper expectations, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to reopening the economy and while it may happen more quickly in one province, others will have to remain patient.
Trudeau said he and his team will work with provincial and territorial leaders on a set of guidelines for lifting economic and social restrictions in the following weeks, while upholding core public health measures.
"I want to be clear that getting back to normal will not happen overnight. It's going to take time. It won't be as simple or as easy as flipping a switch. It will require a lot of coordination at the national level. In our government we'll be there to do that work," Trudeau said during a press briefing at Rideau Cottage.
Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe was the first leader to lay out a comprehensive five-step plan on Thursday, about how his government plans to get the economy going again.
Moe’s "Phase 1" prioritizes the reopening of medical services like dentistry offices and pharmacies. There’s a two-week period between this segment and the next, wherein retail operations are permitted to open.
"The reason that we have the numbers that we do here in Saskatchewan, and the lack of positive cases, is the people in this province have been adhering to the recommendations and the orders quite closely, in general, and we’re quite proud of it," said Moe in an interview on CTV’s Question Period airing Sunday.
"It needs to continue; this is the new normal."
Moe was quick to note, though, that the restrictions could be ramped back up if cases start to flare yet again.
Ontario Premier Doug Ford has also hinted at a plan that could see relaxation of restrictions as early as Victoria Day long weekend. Ford on Friday said the approach would be broken down further by region given how varied the impact of COVID-19 has been in suburban and urban areas.
"We will be working with the provinces and territories to establish principles and guidelines to start reopening the economy, safely. Over the coming weeks, you will hear more talk about reopening, but you need to know, we're not out of the woods," said Trudeau.
On top of following public health measures unique to individual provinces, Trudeau said all Canadians need to remember basic guidelines outlined by Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam: frequent hand washing, staying home as much as possible, and keeping a safe distance between people.
As provinces’ plans to reopen their economies will be inconsistent, so were their plans to close down. Throughout March, states of emergency and public health emergencies were declared as COVID-19 spread throughout the country. Similar measures were implemented at the municipal level as well. All provinces and territories have extended these guidelines until at least the end of April.
Asked whether she was concerned about the impact of a patchwork rollout, Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland said there should be "shared standards" across the country, but "inevitably and quite rightly," there will be a different pace of restarts because the experience of the pandemic has varied across Canada.
Further, Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam said a cautious approach is needed "because we cannot afford to have another upswing in a bigger wave, so that’s the concern."
She said the Public Health Agency of Canada is suggesting criteria like having provinces open health facilities to handle a surge if it came; that in order to reopen, outbreak risk is minimized in settings like long-term care facilities and community housing; and that there is a plan to limit the "importation" of the virus from one province to another.
With files from CTV News’ Rachel Aiello