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Masks Mandated as Stage 3 Openings Take Effect

Huw Evans, Canadian Auto Journal, economy, COVID-19, safety, restrictions, Stage 3, reopenings
Face coverings are being mandated in regions across Canada for any indoor activity to help keep COVID-19 cases low and speed up economic recovery. PHOTO Sara Eshelman

Face coverings designed to keep COVID-19 cases low and speed up the reopening process.

Since April, provincial and territorial governments across Canada have taken measures to gradually ease lockdown restrictions and get the economy kick-started.

Because different provinces and different regions of the country have been impacted by COVID-19 in different ways, different strategies have been employed when it comes to opening up Canada for business again.

Among the first provinces to gear up economic activity was Saskatchewan, which entered its Stage 3 opening phase on June 8, with the announcement that places of worship and childcare facilities could once again resume operations.

Neighbouring Manitoba followed suite, with Stage 3 openings taking place, effective June 21.

Alberta, which announced that effective, June 30, outdoor gatherings could increase occupancy from 100 to 200 people, has also taken the unique measure of distributing free, non-medical masks by teaming up with municipalities, long-term care homes, First Nations and Metis settlements as well as restaurants.

The program was such a success that the second round of mask distribution was announced in July, with the program resuming on July 13.

In British Columbia, plans were announced for a gradual move to Stage 3 re-openings on June 25, with consideration made the safety and respectful return of travel and tourism to the province.

New Brunswick, which saw some of the fewest provincial cases of COVID-19 in the country, (168 confirmed cases, 163 recovered and two deaths) announced a move to its Yellow level opening on June 5, with the exception of Zone 5 (Campbellton region), in addition, the province mandated that all people outside of the home were to wear masks when a physical distancing of 2 m (6-ft) could not be maintained.

In addition, an agreement between the Atlantic provinces (New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, and Newfoundland & Labrador allowed residents of these provinces to travel between them in a bubble, starting July 3).

Meanwhile, in Ontario and Quebec, the two provinces hit hardest by COVID-19 and with the highest number of reported cases (37,052 confirmed, 32,920 recovered and 2,732 deaths for Ontario, 56,859 confirmed, 26,097 recovered and 5,636 deaths for Quebec), have been working on their own strategies for reopening.

In Quebec, masks were declared mandatory for everyone entering a public indoor space as of July 18, following on from a requirement on June 30 that all public transit riders aged 12 years or older must wear a mask.

In Ontario, there has been a gradual spread of bylaws mandating the wearing of masks in enclosed public spaces and businesses as an effort to curb any community spread of COVID-19 and speed up economic activity.

Additionally, the province has announced that its Stage 3 re-opening would take place, starting on July 17, meaning almost all businesses and public spaces are being allowed to re-open.

Some venues (where social distancing would be challenging), such as amusement parks, buffet restaurants, night clubs, and casinos still face restrictions, while some regions of the province which are still reporting higher numbers of COVID-19 cases, notably Toronto, Halton, Durham, Peel, and York Regions, as well as regions around Hamilton and Windsor-Essex, will remain in Stage 2.

At the federal level, Ottawa announced that following an agreement between Canada and the U.S. the border between both countries will remain closed to non-essential travel until August 21.

For businesses that rely on the cross-border flow of goods and services, including many automotive-related operations, disruptions are likely to be a part and parcel of business for some time to come.

In the U.S., COVID-19 cases continue to spike, with almost 1 in 100 Americans having tested positive for the coronavirus, according to information from U.S. news source CNN.

 

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