Skip to main content

People line up for the COVID-19 vaccination clinic at the University of Toronto Mississauga campus on May 6, 2021.Tijana Martin/The Canadian Press

Several provinces are gearing up to tighten public health measures once again as COVID-19 infection rates remain stubbornly high in parts of Canada.

Beginning at midnight, bars and restaurants in Alberta must shut their patios to in-person dining and personal wellness services such as hair salons and tattoo parlours have to close as the final group of rules announced last week by Premier Jason Kenney come into effect.

Manitoba has also banned in-person restaurant dining, closed churches and some businesses and dropped capacity at retail stores to 10 per cent as of today after a recent spike in cases.

The Quebec government is tightening measures in the Estrie region east of Montreal as of Monday, even as it is set to lift emergency lockdown measures in the greater Quebec City region and parts of the Outaouais.

Canada’s chief public health officer Theresa Tam said on Twitter that infection rates remain high in many parts of the country, and is urging people to maintain public health measures even if they’ve been vaccinated.

Manitoba orders schools in Winnipeg, Brandon to move online Wednesday

Schools in Winnipeg and Brandon are being ordered to move classes online starting Wednesday and continuing until May 30 as Manitoba battles a worsening third wave of COVID-19.

Education Minister Cliff Cullen and chief public health officer Dr. Brent Roussin announced the move in Winnipeg on Sunday, along with new public health measures that impact schools elsewhere in the province.

Cullen said while the government has prioritized keeping schools open during the pandemic, the move was prompted by increasing COVID-19 spread that’s infecting more young people and sending more patients to intensive care units.

Coronavirus tracker: How many COVID-19 cases are there in Canada and worldwide? The latest maps and charts

“This remote learning period will last until May 30 to help protect our students and staff during this period of elevated case counts,” Cullen said.

“This will also reduce the strain on our health-care system and give our vaccination campaign an even better ability to combat COVID transmission in the community.”

Students with special needs and children of essential workers will be accommodated during the remote learning period, Cullen said.

Roussin said the move to remote learning is important to address rising community spread and related transmission in schools.

“Moving these schools to remote learning will help address some of that community transmission,” Roussin said.

“We have to act now to break these transmission chains.”

Roussin also announced new measures to take effect across the province during the same period, including moving schools with multiple cases outside the same household to remote learning, and cancelling extracurricular activities.

Cullen said the dismissal measure, which will be triggered when a school has two or more cases, will affect about 34 schools outside Brandon and Winnipeg this week.

School officials can also require students or staff with symptoms to stay home for 10 days and advise them to seek testing.

New restrictions on businesses, religious services and organized sports and other services also took effect in Manitoba on Sunday in a bid to curb the spread.

When those restrictions were announced Friday, Roussin said schools would remain open, although he warned that could change soon.

Opposition politicians and advocates have been calling for school closures in light of rising case numbers.

But Roussin said the government didn’t announce the shift to online learning in Winnipeg and Brandon on Friday because the past week’s dramatic increase in cases meant decisions had to be made “in relatively short order.”

“We always want to balance that notice, but also we need to do this in relation to what we’re seeing with the virus,” Roussin said.

“So, this is where we landed, and we’re able to give a couple of days notice.”

Opposition NDP Leader Wab Kinew slammed the government for delaying the announcement until Mother’s Day, saying officials knew Friday, and have known for some time, that community spread has been happening in schools.

“I’m sitting here as a parent listening to the news conference and I’m saying, ‘OK, so I should send my kids to school on Monday and Tuesday, but then on Wednesday I should not send my kids because then it’s too dangerous for them to be in schools,” Kinew told reporters during a news conference at the legislature.

Manitoba again reported new daily COVID-19 cases over the 500 mark on Sunday, with officials saying there were 532 new cases.

There were also three additional deaths, which the province said were all linked to the variant of concern first identified in the United Kingdom.

Ontario reports 3,216 new COVID-19 cases, 47 deaths as hospitalizations decline

Ontario reported 3,216 new COVID-19 cases on Sunday.

The province is also reporting 47 more deaths linked to the virus.

Provincial figures show 1,640 patients were hospitalized with COVID-19, with 848 in intensive care as of Sunday morning.

Of those hospitalized, 580 people were on ventilators.

The latest numbers are based on 38,540 completed tests.

The province says 121,075 COVID-19 vaccine doses were administered on Saturday for a total of 6,144,685 doses.

Quebec reports 960 new COVID-19 cases, six deaths as hospitalizations drop slightly

Quebec is reporting 960 new cases of COVID-19 and six additional deaths linked to the pandemic, including one in the last 24 hours.

Hospitalizations declined for a fifth straight day, down by eight to 539, while the number of people in intensive care dropped by six to 124.

The province gave 74,694 doses of vaccine on Saturday, and has currently administered at least one shot to almost 42 per cent of the population.

The latest update comes as the Quebec City region and parts of the Outaouais prepare to reopen high schools and non-essential stores on Monday.

The Quebec government announced last week it would lift special lockdown measures in those parts of the province, which includes pushing the nightly curfew from 8 p.m. to 9:30.

However, the province said Saturday that the Estrie region east of Montreal will see its alert level rise from orange to red on Monday, resulting in tighter restrictions after its case numbers jumped in the last week.

Saskatchewan sets May 30 as target date for Step 1 of its reopening plan

Saskatchewan is setting May 30 as the target date for the first step of its COVID-19 “Reopening Roadmap.”

Premier Scott Moe is citing vaccinations and co-operation with public health measures as reasons the province can move forward.

An announcement from the province issued Sunday says restaurants and bars will be allowed to operate on the target date with a maximum of six to a table, with distance between other tables.

The limit now is four, except in Regina where in-person dining is not currently allowed.

Places of worship will be able to hold services with 30 per cent capacity, with no more than 150 people, and group fitness classes can resume with three metres distance between participants.

Gathering limits will rise, although current protocols for schools and postsecondary will remain in place, and the province-wide mask mandate will stay in effect.

Sign up for the Coronavirus Update newsletter to read the day’s essential coronavirus news, features and explainers written by Globe reporters and editors.