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08/23/2021

Update on reopening plans across Canada

As COVID-19 vaccination rates increase, the provinces and territories have been releasing their reopening plans for businesses, events and recreational facilities.

Most of the plans are based on each jurisdiction reaching vaccination targets at certain dates, while also keeping the number of cases and hospitalizations down.

Here's a look at what reopening plans look like across the country:

National:

Canada is once again allowing U.S. citizens and permanent residents back into the country, provided they've been fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

The 17-month long ban on non-essential travel across the Canada-U.S. border was eased Aug. 9, although the Americans have yet to lift their own limits on Canadian travellers.

Read: Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna booster shot to be available for Americans in September

Eligible visitors must live in the U.S. and have allowed 14 days to pass since receiving a full course of a Health Canada-approved vaccine.

They are also required to show proof of a negative molecular test for COVID-19 that's no more than 72 hours old and to use the ArriveCAN app or online web portal to upload their vaccination details.

Newfoundland and Labrador:

Newfoundland and Labrador is in the second step of its reopening plan.

Fully and partially vaccinated travellers from Canada no longer need to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test, nor do they have to self-isolate.

With more than 60% of residents aged 12 and over now fully vaccinated, the province says masks are no longer mandatory in most places.

Read: Alberta woman beats death after procedure using new tool removes COVID-19 blood clot

They are, however, still required in health facilities and in congregate living centres for seniors.

Meanwhile, limits on indoor gatherings have risen to 500 people as long as social distancing is maintained.

There are now no capacity restrictions at restaurants and lounges, as long as physical distancing is maintained.

Dancing is now permitted, but buffets remain closed.

Nova Scotia:

Nova Scotia has further reduced COVID-19 public health orders after entering the fourth phase of its reopening.

Retail stores can now operate at full capacity, churches and other venues can operate at half capacity or with a maximum of 150 people, and up to 50 people can attend outdoor family gatherings.

Capacity limits for dance classes, music lessons and indoor play spaces have also been lifted.

Organized sports practices, games, league play, competitions and recreation programs can involve up to 25 people indoors and 50 people outdoors without physical distancing.

Read: Most Canadians in favour of vaccine passports for non essential activities: poll

Day camps can operate with 30 campers per group plus staff and volunteers, following the day camp guidelines. In addition, professional and amateur arts and culture rehearsals and performances can involve up to 25 people indoors and 50 outdoors without physical distancing.

Meanwhile, fully vaccinated residents of long-term care homes can now have visitors in their rooms and visit their family's homes, including for overnight stays.

New Brunswick:

The province has lifted all public health orders and its mask mandate has also expired.

All limits on gatherings are now removed, including in theatres and stores. Restaurants, gyms and salons can also operate at full capacity, as long as customer contact lists are kept.

New Brunswick had earlier moved into the second phase of its reopening plan, which opened travel without the need to isolate to all of Nova Scotia after earlier opening to P.E.I. and Newfoundland and Labrador.

Read: COVID-19: Quebec minister slams anti vaccine passport protesters wearing yellow star

Travellers from elsewhere in Canada who've had at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine can enter the province without the need to isolate, while those who haven't had a shot must still isolate and produce a negative test before being released from quarantine.

New Brunswick, meantime, has released its back-to-school plan.

All school staff will have to be fully vaccinated for COVID-19 or undergo regular testing. Masks will still be required in common areas and on school buses but students in kindergarten to Grade 8 will no longer have small class sizes or be grouped into classroom bubbles.

If one COVID-19 case is identified in a school, students will switch to remote learning and the building will be closed for at least one day to allow for contact tracing and a risk assessment.

Prince Edward Island:

Prince Edward Island has dropped its requirement that non-medical masks be worn in public indoor spaces.

Chief public health officer Dr. Heather Morrison says masks are still encouraged to reduce the spread of COVID-19, and businesses are free to adopt stricter rules.

Read: Smart choice: New CMA president calls for changes to the culture of medicine

Officials say those who serve the public, such as in restaurants, retail stores and hair salons, should continue to wear a mask.

All health-care facilities will continue to require masks until 80% of eligible P.E.I. residents are fully vaccinated.

Meanwhile, the province has allowed personal gatherings to increase so that up to 20 people can get together indoors and outdoors. Restaurants are allowed to have tables of up to 20. Special occasion events like backyard weddings and anniversary parties of up to 50 people hosted by individuals are permitted with a reviewed operational plan.

Organized gatherings hosted by a business or other organization are permitted with groups of up to 200 people outdoors or 100 people indoors.

Read: Ontario's Vaccine Clinical Advisory Group recommends some cohorts receive third mRNA vaccine

On Sept. 12, the province expects physical distancing measures to be eased, as well as allowing personal and organized gatherings to go ahead without limits.

Quebec:

The Quebec government has cancelled two concerts that were intended to be experiments examining the impact of COVID-19 on large gatherings.

Tourism Minister Caroline Proulx said rising COVID-19 cases in the province make conditions too difficult to hold the two events that were to host a total of up to 25,000 people.

The concerts had been scheduled for the Quebec City area in September in collaboration with researchers at Universite Laval.

The province is testing a smartphone app that will run the vaccine passport system the government plans to impose across the province on Sept. 1.

Read: 'Increasingly uncomfortable' Dr. David Fisman quits Ontario's pandemic science advisory table

The passport would be used in settings with a high degree of contact, such as festivals, bars, restaurants and gyms.

Health Minister Christian Dube says the government wants to have the app ready for use across the province by September.

Dube says it will read the QR code sent to people who have been vaccinated against COVID-19, adding that both businesses and clients will need to download the software.

Quebecers are currently allowed to drink alcohol in bars and restaurants until 1 a.m., gaining an additional hour from the previous restrictions.

Indoor venues and stadiums can now seat 7,500 people, and outdoor festivals can have up to 15,000 with pre-assigned seats.

Indoor public events can have up to 250 people while 500 people are permitted at outdoor public gatherings.

Read: U.S. regulators give full approval to Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine

Quebec is, however, maintaining mandatory masks and social distancing in enclosed public spaces and transit.

Students returning to school in the coming weeks will be required to wear a procedural mask but not in the classroom.

Masks will be required on the bus, when entering school and in common areas inside, but not in class, the schoolyard or in after school care.

The province earlier removed capacity restrictions in retail stores and reduced the two-metre physical distancing health order to one metre.

It permitted gyms and restaurant dining rooms to reopen in June, ended its nightly curfew on May 28, and also lifted travel bans between regions.

Ontario:

Ontario will stay in Step 3 of its reopening plan for now, maintaining capacity limits on businesses, gatherings and other settings.

Dr. Kieran Moore, the province's chief medical officer of health said reopening needs to be paused to allow time for the new policies to take effect, adding that Ontario's vaccination rates need to be higher.

Read: What is being done to distribute COVID 19 vaccines globally?

Social gatherings are limited to 25 people indoors and 100 people outdoors. Religious services and other ceremonies are allowed indoors with larger groups of people who are physically distanced.

Nightclubs and similar establishments are open to 25% capacity. Crowd limits have expanded for retail stores and salons, which can offer services that require masks to be removed.

Spectators are permitted at sporting events, concert venues, cinemas and theatres, with larger limits on crowds for outdoor events.

Museums, galleries, aquariums, zoos, bingo halls and amusement parks are also open with larger crowd limits on outdoor attractions.

Masking and physical distancing rules, however, remain in place.

Fully vaccinated Ontarians considered close contacts of someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 no longer have to isolate unless they develop symptoms or are directed to do so by public health.

In its school-specific guidance, the province says fully immunized high-risk contacts of positive or likely COVID-19 cases don't have to isolate or be dismissed from classes unless they have symptoms.

Read: WHO Africa: COVID 19 booster shots make 'mockery' of equity

Vaccinated individuals with symptoms who receive a negative COVID-19 test result can return to school if their symptoms improve over 24 hours, or after 48 hours if they had gastrointestinal symptoms.

Unvaccinated, high-risk contacts of positive or likely cases need to isolate for 10 days and it's recommended that they take a COVID-19 test seven days into their isolation.

The province says household members of those who are close contacts of positive cases have to abide by similar rules.

Returning students will be allowed to play on sports teams and with friends from other classes during recess, share materials such as toys in kindergarten, use instruments in music class, go on field trips and ditch masks outdoors.

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Students will be attending in person for full days, five days a week - unless they have opted for remote learning - and high school students will have timetables with no more than two courses at a time.

Manitoba:

Manitoba has loosened more COVID-19 restrictions, including removing its mask mandate.

All restrictions are now removed for private gatherings and businesses, including hair salons, libraries, retail stores, malls and gyms.

The rules around capacity have been loosened for religious services, weddings and funerals. Museums, galleries and movie theatres can still only have 50% capacity but can open up to unvaccinated people.

Sporting events and casinos can open to full capacity but are restricted only to those who are fully vaccinated.

Restaurants and bars no longer need to restrict the space between tables and people dining are not required to eat with only those in their household.

Masks are no longer required but are strongly recommended for people who are unvaccinated. And they are still necessary when going into a hospital or care home.

Meanwhile, the province says masks will be strongly recommended, but not mandatory, when students return to class on September 7th.

Manitoba's back-to-school plan also recommends physical distancing "to the greatest extent possible''.

Read: OMA breaks down five solutions to physician burnout

Students will return to in-class learning full-time, except for those who are immunocompromised or have family members that are.

Extracurricular activities such as sports teams and field trips will also return, and kids from kindergarten to Grade 6 will be grouped in cohorts to minimize contacts.

Saskatchewan:

Saskatchewan has removed all public health orders _ including the province-wide mandatory masking order, as well as capacity limits on events and gathering sizes.

Premier Scott Moe says the province decided to go ahead with full implementation of Step 3 of its Reopening Roadmap because more than 70% of residents over the age of 18 and 76% of those over 12 have received their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

Read: Walmart Canada hosts vax-a-thon to promote walk-in appointments

Despite the lifting of the health orders, Regina and Saskatoon say they will still keep up extra cleaning in municipal facilities.

Alberta:

Most remaining COVID-19 restrictions were lifted on July 1.

There are no longer limits on weddings, funerals or bans on indoor social gatherings. In addition, there are no more limits on gyms, sports or fitness activities, no more capacity limits at restaurants, in retail stores or in places of worship.

However, anyone with a confirmed case of COVID-19 must still self-isolate and protective measures at continuing care centres may remain.

Alberta is also walking back its decision to eliminate isolation requirements for people who test positive for COVID-19 after weeks of pressure from local leaders, physicians and families.

Chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw has announced that Alberta is also extending a masking mandate for public transit and will continue testing for any symptomatic individuals as cases spike.

All remaining public health restrictions were to lift Aug. 16, but will now remain in place for another six weeks until Sept 27.

Dr. Hinshaw said an unexpected rise in hospitalizations and emerging data from the United States on pediatric cases linked to the highly contagious Delta variant are behind the pause.

Read: Vaccines for kids turning 12? Great, but where's the EO?

The overall requirement for masks in public indoor spaces ended on July 1, and some remaining COVID-19 health restrictions in continuing-care centres have also been eased.

The province is no longer limiting the number of visitors, however, visitors still need to be screened for COVID-19 symptoms or known exposure, and masks are still required in common areas.

The province recommends people wear a mask at all times when visiting a care home if they have not been fully vaccinated, including children under 12.

Limits on dining and recreation activities have been eliminated, and residents are not required to be screened if they are re-entering the building or go into quarantine if they have gone off site.

Unvaccinated students and staff at Edmonton's University of Alberta, the University of Calgary and the University of Lethbridge will have to get regular COVID-19 rapid tests to attend campus this fall.

The three research schools said they won't mandate vaccinations but anyone who refuses to disclose vaccination status or who is not fully immunized will need to regularly test negative to attend campus.

Read: Physicians would save time enough to see far more patients if pharmacists allowed to immunize for more diseases: study

Face masks will be required in all public areas of the universities.

British Columbia:

The province took the next step in its reopening plan on Canada Day when most COVID-19 restrictions were removed and outdoor gatherings of up to 5,000 people got the go ahead.

However, a surge in COVID-19 cases spurred by the Delta variant has prompted B-C's health officials to enact mandatory vaccine requirements for all staff and volunteers at long-term care and assisted living sites. The deadline for workers to get vaccinated is October 12th.

Provincial health officer Doctor Bonnie Henry has said the surge could stop B.C. from moving to Step 4 of its re-start plan next month.

She made the comment as she announced tighter public health restrictions will be expanded from the central Okanagan to the entire Interior Health region.

Those restrictions include mandatory mask wearing in all indoor public places. Outdoor gatherings are once again limited to 50 individuals, while indoor get-togethers are reduced to five extra people, plus those in the household.

Nightclubs and bars are closed and liquor is now cutoff at 10 p.m. at restaurants.

High intensity indoor fitness classes are cancelled, though low intensity exercise at fitness centres is still permitted.

Read: Quebec premier issues vaccine mandate for healthcare workers

Elsewhere in the province, most restaurants and pubs no longer have limits on the number of diners, but people are still not allowed to mingle with those at other tables. Masks are no longer mandatory in most places and recreational travel outside the province can resume.

Most casinos and nightclubs are also open again, though some barriers remain in place and socializing between tables is not allowed.

Nunavut:

Nunavut has closed its travel bubble with the Northwest Territories after an increase in cases of COVID-19 over the last few days.

That means unvaccinated travellers must isolate for 14 days in a Yellowknife isolation hotel before coming to Nunavut.

Travellers with a same-ticket layover, vaccinated people travelling with unvaccinated dependants 12 years old or younger, and critical workers are exempt from the isolation requirement.

The government has released a long-term plan that will work toward treating COVID-19 like any other vaccine-preventable disease.

The plan, which is called Nunavut's Path: Living with COVID-19, will move Nunavut from restrictions to what it calls "baseline measures,'' which it says are the lowest level of restrictions still needed in the territory to reduce the risk of introduction of the virus. The measures will be assessed every two to four weeks.

Read: Edmonton hospital cancels orthopedic surgeries due to lack of clinical associates to provide post-procedure care

Right now, baseline measures include limiting household gatherings to 15 people and opening restaurants and bars at 75% capacity. Masks are no longer mandatory in Nunavut but their use is still strongly encouraged.

The plan says the ultimate goal is to end the territory's public health emergency, which has been in place for more than a year, and eliminate all public health restrictions.

For now, all schools in Nunavut also plan to reopen at full capacity for in-class learning this fall.

Northwest Territories:

Up to 25 people are allowed in a business that is following an approved COVID-19 plan. Households can have up to 10 people with a maximum of five guests from another household.

Non-essential travel outside the territory is not recommended, and leisure travel into the territory is not permitted.

The territory is no longer requiring masks to be worn in public places in Yellowknife and three other communities.

But chief public health officer Dr. Kami Kandola says it's still a good idea to wear a mask indoors when there is a crowd, poor ventilation, or shouting or singing.

Yukon:

The Yukon government has lifted a series of public health restrictions.

The territory says masks are no longer required in indoor spaces but are strongly recommended when it's difficult to practise physical distancing.

Shops, grocers, bars, restaurants, recreational centres and transit operators should be respected if they ask clients to wear masks.

Read: Coming up short: Why Ontario optometrists are disappointed with province's $39-million offer

Self-isolation after domestic travel is no longer required for both vaccinated and unvaccinated people, while bars and restaurants may return to full capacity.

Certain public health restrictions remain in place, including limits on the number of people who can gather at gyms and recreation centres. Social gatherings are still limited to 20 people indoors and to 100 outdoors. Organized events of any kind are capped at 200 people, with physical distancing required at all children's gatherings.

Unvaccinated people should stick to six people and keep their circle small, the territory said in a statement.

Schools will return to "near-normal'' operations this fall, offering full-time, in-class instruction.

Students won't have to wear masks in class, but masks will be required for adults and kids aged five and up in common areas.

School buses are set to resume normal operations with masks required for drivers and children five and up.

The Yukon government has also set out its framework for moving from the pandemic to an endemic approach, treating COVID-19 much like the flu.

Premier Sandy Silver says the territory is scheduled to lift its state of emergency on Aug. 25, after which a six-pillar plan, titled Forging Ahead, will help guide Yukon to safely adapt to the disease.

The pillars include increasing vaccination, continued testing and tracing to curb outbreaks, along with supports for vulnerable people.

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