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Canada caution over lifting lockdown

International 29 Apr, 2020 Follow News

Toronto still looks like a ghost town despite easing restrictions

Canada is gradually reopening its economy after weeks of strict physical distancing measures amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Normal life in Canada ground to a halt, but some provinces are now offering frameworks for how things will inch back toward a semblance of normalcy.

The federal government is leaving each province to decide its policies leading to some stark differences in timing and specificity as they start to roll out across the country. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said that every region in Canada is facing a different situation when it comes to the virus.

"The provinces have the authority to determine what is in their best interests," Trudeau said. "It's not up to the federal government to check or oversee the provinces in their areas of jurisdiction. They have the responsibility to do what is right for their citizens."

Ontario was the latest province to offer up such a framework, when officials released a plan Monday to gradually re-open the province's economy. But that plan was vague on specifics, offered no firm dates, and gave few details about when that effort will begin — though it did say large-scale public gatherings like concerts and sporting events "will continue to be restricted for the foreseeable future," even once the plan is well underway.

Case counts in Ontario are still higher than in much of the country, with 424 newly confirmed COVID-19 cases announced Monday. Premier Doug Ford said the province's plan is "about how we're reopening, not when we're reopening. "That's why I won't set hard dates until we're ready — because the virus travels at its own speed," he said. Officials in Ontario say they plan to gradually reopen all workplaces and public spaces, but with continued physical distancing practices.

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