New COVID-19 Restrictions Are Coming Down Across Canada. Here’s What You Need To Know.
No doubt about it, the second wave of COVID-19 is here.
After a summer when many Canadians welcomed looser restrictions and the chance to see some family and friends, winter is here and the cold weather comes as cases surge again.
Nearly every province has recorded a new daily record for confirmed cases in recent weeks, and lagging indicators like hospitalizations and deaths from the virus are once again on the rise. On Friday, Canada’s chief medical officer Dr. Theresa Tam warned that the country could see over 10,000 new cases a day by early December.
“Fires are burning in so many different areas and now is the time to get those under control,” she said.
Provinces across the country have announced new restrictions to try and curb the spread, but each one is approaching things a little differently.
Here’s what you need to know about restrictions introduced in recent weeks across Canada.
Ontario Premier Doug Ford announced changes to the province’s requirements for various levels of restrictions Friday, limiting the threshold for an area to qualify for yellow, orange, or red alert restrictions.
The new thresholds come into effect Monday, meaning the Hamilton, Halton, Toronto and York regions will all be under “red” alert, the strictest measures. Some of these regions have already introduced their own regional measures ahead of the provincial shift.
Socialization: Under red restrictions, gatherings are limited to 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors
Funerals and weddings: Must operate at 30 per cent capacity indoors, and fewer than 100 people outdoors.
Group fitness: Gyms remain open, but group fitness classes are limited to 10 people indoors. There are also restrictions on team sports, limiting contact and the number of participants.
Check out Ontario’s COVID-19 page for all of the information relevant to your area.
Last weekend, B.C. introduced strict new restrictions in the Vancouver Coastal Health and Fraser Health regions, which have seen the majority of new cases. The restrictions are in effect for a two-week period, until Nov. 23 at 12 p.m.
WATCH: Dr. Bonnie Henry breaks down new restrictions. Story continues below.
Socialization: The new restrictions limit socialization to just your own household. Residents are not permitted to have guests over who live outside of the household, or socialize in restaurants or public spaces with people not in their immediate household. For people who live alone, one or two other close contacts can count as their “household.”
Travel: Non-essential travel into and out of the Vancouver Coastal Health and Fraser Health regions is not recommended.
Funerals and weddings: These ceremonies may proceed as long as there is a COVID-19 safety plan and fewer than 50 people involved. However, receptions in any venue are not permitted, and a reception in the home can only include your immediate household.
Group fitness: Any indoor group physical activity that increases the respiratory rate must be suspended for the duration of the new restrictions or until a new COVID safety plan is approved by a health officer. That includes spin class, dance, yoga and other group fitness activities. Indoor contact sports where distance cannot be maintained, such as boxing or hockey, must also be suspended.
Other: Party buses and limousines must suspend all operation.
Previous baseline restrictions and public health orders remain in place across the rest of the province, including advice to maintain a “safe six” of contacts, limits on short-term rentals, and limits on bars and restaurants serving liquor after 10 p.m.
Be sure to check with the B.C. Centre for Disease Control to see if the restrictions apply to your area.
After leaning on targeted voluntary restrictions in the province’s city for several weeks, Alberta Premier Jason Kenney announced a new wave of temporary restrictions Thursday, intended to last two weeks, much like B.C.’s. The new rules will vary slightly by an area’s designation.
WATCH: Kenney urges end to house parties. Story continues below.
Socialization: The new restrictions “strongly recommend” limiting socialization to just your own household. Unlike B.C., however, this is not a public health order and is not subject to enforcement.
Funerals and weddings: On Thursday, Kenney announced that wedding and funerals will be limited to 50 people. There are no restrictions on holding receptions for these events.
Group fitness: All indoor group physical activities must be suspended for the duration of the new restrictions. That includes spin class, dance, yoga and other group fitness activities. Indoor contact sports where distance cannot be maintained, such as boxing or hockey, must also be suspended. This rule also applies to indoor group performance events such as choirs, theatre or dance. Professional and university sports, as well as professional performance venues, are exempted.
Bars and restaurants: Similar to measures already introduced in B.C., bars and restaurants must now close before 11 p.m., and stop serving liquor by 10 p.m. This is for the duration of the restrictions.
The majority of these restrictions apply in areas with the “enhanced” designation, including all for the province’s major cities and some rural areas, so be sure to check Alberta Health for more information on your specific area’s restrictions.
Quebec has used a colour-coded alert system for several months now to designate localized restrictions related to COVID-19. This week premier Francois Legault announced that there were no immediate plans to lift restrictions in “red zone” areas with high transmission like Montreal, nor were there plans to impose further lockdowns.
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Current restrictions will remain in effect until at least Nov. 23. In red zone areas these include:
Socialization: Visitors from other households are not permitted to come over.
Fitness: All organized sports and activities are suspended. Fitness classes and physical gyms are closed, though some indoor physical fitness facilities remain open for individual activities if precautions are taken.
Weddings and funerals: A maximum of 25 people may attend, and a record of all in attendance must be kept.
Travel: Travel outside of red zones to other regions of Quebec or other provinces is not recommended.
Restaurants and bars: No in-person dining service. Pick-up and delivery only are permitted.
Other: Auditoriums, theatres, and libraries are closed.
Check out Quebec’s full list of restrictions based on colour-code.
As of Nov. 13, Manitoba has the highest per capita COVID-19 case rate in Canada. As a result, the entire province went into “Code Red” restrictions on Thursday.
WATCH: Manitoba moves to red alert. Story continues below.
Socialization: The new restrictions limit socialization to just your own household.
Travel: Travel to and from northern Manitoba is restricted. The province is strongly recommending against all other non-essential travel.
Business closures: Essential businesses such as grocery stores, liquor stores and pharmacies may remain open for in-person sales so long as they maintain less than 25 per cent capacity. All other businesses deemed “non-essential” must close for in-person sales. They can still operate for curb-side pickup and delivery. All personal service businesses such as hair and nail salons must close until the restrictions are lifted.
Religious gatherings: In-person religious gatherings must be suspended. These services can still be provided online.
Group fitness: All gyms and fitness centres are closed.
Bars and restaurants: All bars and restaurants must be closed for in-person dining. They can still provide pick-up and delivery services.
Other: With the new restrictions, all recreational activities, sport facilities, casinos, museums, galleries, libraries, movie theatres, and concert halls must be closed.
Provincial officials warn that the restrictions will likely be in place for at least four weeks, or two incubation cycles of COVID-19. For more information on the “Code Red” restrictions, check out the Manitoba Health website.
On Friday, Saskatchewan also introduced new restrictions across the province that will be in place for at least four weeks.
WATCH: Saskatchewan mandates masks in largest cities. Story continues below.
“Our case numbers are still quite a bit lower than our neighbouring provinces, but make no mistake, our case numbers, our hospitalization numbers, the number of patients in the ICU — all of these have been heading in the wrong direction,” said Saskatchewan Health Minister Paul Merriman during a news conference.
Mandatory masks: Following several other jurisdictions, Saskatchewan announced that masks will be mandatory in all indoor spaces in communities of over 5,000 people in the province.
Group fitness: Group fitness classes can remain in operation, so long as participation is limited to eight people or fewer with a distance of at least three metres between them.
Bars and restaurants: Similar to measures already introduced in B.C. and Alberta, bars and restaurants must now close before 11 p.m., and stop serving liquor by 10 p.m. This is for the duration of the restrictions.
More information on the new restrictions can be found at the Saskatchewan Health Authority website.
Even as cases continue to surge elsewhere, the “Atlantic bubble” remains largely intact. As a result, the most notable restriction remains on travel in and out of the bubble — comprised of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland and Labrador.
WATCH: New Brunswick couple pulls off cross-border wedding. Story continues below.
Anyone entering the bubble must isolate alone for 14 days upon arrival. Self-isolation means you go directly to your destination and stay there for 14 days, or for the duration of your stay if it’s less than 14 days.
In Nova Scotia, there is specifically the Nova Scotia Safe Check-In Form that must be completed by all arrivals or returning residents.
Much like the Atlantic bubble, some travel restrictions are in place for people entering any of the three northern territories.
Over the summer, Nunavut and the Northwest Territories established a “common travel area.” Residents of both territories are free to travel between them, but anyone coming from outside must isolate for two weeks in either Ottawa, Winnipeg, Edmonton or Yellowknife. At the end of isolation, they must receive a letter from a public health officer declaring them safe to enter.