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Children can return to class in broad swaths of Quebec today, as daycares and elementary schools outside the Montreal region welcome students back, despite concern from some about the risk of reopening amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Classes will have a maximum of 15 students, desks will be spaced apart and schools will have a range of measures to ensure physical distancing. But even with the public health measures, some parents are choosing not to send their children back to class, which is allowed as attendance is not mandatory.
Schools in hard-hit Montreal, which were initially slated to open May 18, have had their opening date pushed back to May 25 at the earliest.
WATCH | Quebec schools adjusting to new protocols as some kids return to class:
Quebec’s move comes as provinces across the country are making decisions about what restrictions to lift and when, as many areas are seeing the daily number of new coronavirus cases drop.
As of 11:25 a.m. ET, Canada has a total of 69,157 confirmed and presumptive coronavirus cases, with 32,486 of those listed as resolved by the provinces and territories. A CBC News tally of coronavirus deaths based on provincial information, regional data and CBC’s reporting lists 4,971 deaths in Canada.
Restrictions put in place to try and slow the spread of the virus have had major financial consequences for families and for businesses of all sizes.
On Monday, the federal government said it will provide loans and financing to the country’s largest employers to help them weather the COVID-19 economic crisis. The Liberals said the government will offer bridge financing to companies whose financial needs aren’t being met by conventional credit so they can stay open and keep employees on their payrolls.
The government said in a media release that another goal of the financing program, aimed at companies with $300 million or more in revenues, is to avoid bankruptcies of otherwise viable firms wherever possible. Rules on access to the money will place limits on dividends, share buy-backs and executive pay. Any companies convicted of tax evasion won’t be eligible for the money, which will be open to all sectors of the economy.
WATCH | Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer reacts to Finance Minister Bill Morneau’s bridge financing announcement:
Finance Minister Bill Morneau said the low-cost lending isn’t for those who don’t need it, nor is it to rescue companies that were facing insolvency before the crisis.
Morneau said the terms of the funding will be consistent across companies.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Monday that the financing amounts to “bridge loans, not bailouts.”
“Our purpose is to keep large Canadian companies on their feet and protect the millions of jobs they provide.”
Speaking outside Rideau Cottage, Trudeau again urged people to be cautious and continue to follow public health guidelines.
“Please let caution and medical advice be your guides,” the prime minister said. “We are all anxious to see life go back to something that looks more like normal. But we’re not out of the woods yet and we cannot squander the sacrifices we’ve made over the past two months.”
According to a case tracking tool maintained by Johns Hopkins University, there are more than 4.1 million reported coronavirus cases around the world, with more than 283,000 deaths.
Public health officials have cautioned that infection numbers are likely higher, as reported data doesn’t include people who haven’t been tested or cases that are still under investigation.
The virus, which first emerged in China in late 2019, causes an illness called COVID-19. While most cases are mild to moderate, some people, particularly the elderly and those with underlying health issues, are at risk of severe illness or death.
What’s happening in the provinces and territories
British Columbia’s top doctor said the province is working on a plan to safely allow people back in to long-term care homes to visit loved ones. “These new ways of doing things will be coming in the coming weeks and days,” Dr Bonnie Henry said over the weekend. Read more about what’s happening in B.C.
Alberta reported 96 new coronavirus cases on Sunday, bringing the provincial total to 6,253. The province, which lists 4,389 of those cases as resolved, has 117 coronavirus deaths, CBC’s tally reports. Read more about what’s happening in Alberta.
Saskatchewan reported 11 new cases on Sunday, with nine in the far north region and two in the north region. The province has a total of 564 cases, with 349 considered recovered. Read more about what’s happening in Saskatchewan.
WATCH | The problems in long-term care that COVID-19 could change:
Ontario’s legislature will sit Tuesday and is expected to extend the province’s state of emergency to June 2, while also holding question period again — with physical distancing measures in place. The province reported 308 new coronavirus cases on Monday, for a total of 20,536 cases in the province. Read more about what’s happening in Ontario.
In Quebec, a Cargill meat-processing plant announced it is closing its doors after at least 64 workers tested positive for COVID-19. The outbreak in Chambly, Que., marks the second time the company has experienced a COVID-19 closure at one of its facilities in Canada. Read more about what’s happening in Quebec.
WATCH | Cargill closes Quebec meat-processing plant with COVID-19 outbreak:
New Brunswick’s government moved the province’s recovery forward on Friday, which allowed more businesses in the province to open their doors over the weekend. Read more about what’s happening in N.B.
Nova Scotia reported seven new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday. That brings the province’s total to 1,018 confirmed cases, with 47 deaths. Read more about what’s happening in N.S.
Prince Edward Island eased some of its COVID-19 restrictions on Friday, which means that people in one household can now gather with as many as five other people from other households inside, and even more outside. Read more about what’s happening in P.E.I.
Newfoundland and Labrador reported no new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday. The total number of confirmed cases in the province remains at 261, with virtually all of them in the province’s eastern region. Read more about what’s happening in N.L.
There were no new cases reported in Yukon, the Northwest Territories or Nunavut on Sunday. Read more about what’s happening across the North.
Here’s a look at what’s happening in the U.S.
From The Associated Press, updated at 7:30 a.m. ET
In the United States, Trump administration officials spoke optimistically about a relatively quick rebound from the virus.
U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin predicted the American economy would rebound in the second half of this year from unemployment rates that rival the Great Depression. Another 3.2 million U.S. workers applied for jobless benefits last week, bringing the total over the last seven weeks to 33.5 million.
“I think you’re going to see a bounce-back from a low standpoint,” said Mnuchin, speaking on Fox News Sunday.
But the director of the University of Washington institute that created a White House-endorsed coronavirus model said the moves by states to reopen businesses “will translate into more cases and deaths in 10 days from now.” Dr. Christopher Murray of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation said states where cases and deaths are going up more than expected include Illinois, Arizona, Florida and California.
U.S. Vice-President Mike Pence is not in quarantine and plans to be at the White House on Monday, despite media reports that Pence was self-isolating after a staffer tested positive.
Here’s a look at what’s happening around the world
From The Associated Press and Reuters, updated at 10 a.m. ET
Visitors in face masks streamed into Shanghai Disneyland as the theme park reopened Monday in a high-profile step toward reviving tourism that was shut down by the coronavirus pandemic.
The House of Mouse’s experience in Shanghai, the first of its parks to reopen, foreshadows hurdles global entertainment industries might face. Disney is limiting visitor numbers, requiring masks and checking for the virus’s telltale fever.
“We hope that today’s reopening serves as a beacon of light across the globe, providing hope and inspiration to everyone,” the president of Shanghai Disney Resort, Joe Schott, told reporters.
China, where the pandemic began in December, was the first country to reopen factories and other businesses after declaring the disease under control in March even as infections rise and controls are tightened in some other countries.
However, on Monday China’s National Health Commission reported 17 new cases: seven of them imported, five in the original epicentre of Wuhan and five spread across three northeastern provinces. It was the second consecutive day of double-digit increases after more than a week when daily new cases were in the single digits.
The National Health Commission said the rise is a growing concern. “In the past 14 days, there were seven provinces reporting new confirmed local cases,” spokesperson Mi Feng said. “The number of cases from local mass infections continues to grow. We must find out the origins of the infections and the routes of transmission.”
South Korea has pushed back its reopening of schools by a week as health authorities scramble to isolate virus carriers and trace their contacts after finding dozens of coronavirus infections linked to clubgoers. Before discovering the new transmissions, the country relaxed physical distancing guidelines amid what had been a slowing caseload and scheduled the reopening of schools, starting with high-school seniors on Wednesday.
WATCH | Singapore’s coronavirus crackdown exposed treatment of migrant workers:
India reported its biggest daily increase in coronavirus cases Monday as it prepared to resume train service to ease a lockdown that has hit migrant workers especially hard by eliminating the daily wages they use to feed their families. The government reported 4,213 new cases.
New Zealand reported three new cases, ahead of a decision on whether to ease restrictions further and allow more business and recreational activities to resume.
In a change of advice, the British government says people should wear masks covering their mouth and nose in enclosed spaces, such as buses and subway trains.
The about-face comes as part of a plan to gradually lift a nationwide lockdown that was imposed in the U.K. on March 23.
In a 50-page document outlining next steps, the government says “people should aim to wear a face-covering in enclosed spaces where social distancing is not always possible and they come into contact with others that they do not normally meet, for example on public transport or in some shops.”
That is a recommendation rather than a rule, and people won’t be penalized if they don’t wear a mask.
The road map document outlines a three-stage approach to ending Britain’s lockdown, beginning Wednesday with a relaxing of limits on outdoor exercise and leisure activity. If there is no new spike in infections, that will be followed in June by a return to class for some school pupils, the reopening of nonessential shops and the return of televised sports, played behind closed doors.
A third stage planned for July would see the gradual reopening of restaurants, cafes, pubs, hairdressers and other businesses.
The plan has put Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s U.K. government at odds with semi-autonomous authorities in Scotland and Wales, who are urging more caution.
But the government’s chief medical officer, Chris Whitty, says the first stage of relaxing the rules involves “a very small risk” and has “some very clear benefits” to people’s health and well-being.
Cars began slowly filling Paris’s wide Champs-Elysees in a sleepy start to post-confinement life in the French capital after two months of strict lockdown.
Shoppers and gawkers timidly walked down sidewalks that were typically packed with crowds in pre-coronavirus times. Only half the shops on the famed avenue were expected to open Monday.
The notorious traffic jams of the Paris region were distinctly absent on the first day of deconfinement. Authorities have encouraged businesses to continue allowing employees to work from home and are promoting bicycles and other “soft” transport.
Still, people wearing required masks filled the city’s St. Lazare station, a hub for western suburbs. Stickers marked train seats and floors to ensure physical distancing, but in the station lobby crowds pressed together and scores of people were shoulder-to-shoulder reaching for masks being handed out.
Roughly half of the 47 million Spaniards are stepping into a softer version of the country’s strict confinement, beginning to socialize, shop in small establishments and enjoy a meal or a coffee in restaurants and bars with outdoor seating.
Altogether, 11 of Spain’s 17 regions, as well as the autonomous cities of Ceuta and Melilla in the northern African coast, are officially from Monday in the so-called Phase 1 of the rollback, as the country departs from the uncompromising lockdown imposed in mid-March.
The hard-hit region around the Spanish capital, Madrid, and the economic powerhouse of Barcelona, in the northeastern Catalonia region, are among those territories that remain under stricter measures while authorities watch contagion rates and other health indicators closely.
Saudi Arabia announced Monday it was tripling taxes on basic goods, raising them to 15 per cent, and cutting spending on major projects by around $26 billion US as it grapples with blows to its economy from the coronavirus pandemic and low oil prices.
Africa has more than 60,000 confirmed coronavirus cases, according to a tally from the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The Africa CDC says that all but one of the continent’s 54 countries, tiny Lesotho, has confirmed cases of the virus. South Africa has the most with more than 9,400 registered.
The widespread shortage of testing capacity continues to be a challenge and means the true figures are likely to be much higher. Some countries are easing lockdowns even as cases rise, arguing people have to make a living and feed their families despite the risks.