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Hello,

Yesterday, Quebec made waves by announcing it would reopen schools within weeks. Today the province is going a wave further by saying many industries can resume operations next week.

Retail businesses can reopen in much of the province starting May 4. A week later, retail in Montreal and construction sites everywhere will open. Factories will open in stages starting that week, too.

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“The idea is to reopen gradually, add workers, and follow up to see if there is an impact on contagion, an impact on hospitals,” Quebec Premier François Legault said.

This is the daily Politics Briefing newsletter, written by Chris Hannay. It is available exclusively to our digital subscribers. If you’re reading this on the web, subscribers can sign up for the Politics newsletter and more than 20 others on our newsletter signup page. Have any feedback? Let us know what you think.

TODAY’S HEADLINES

New federal figures show that the rate of coronavirus spread in Canada appears to be slowing, which is good news for those trying to flatten the curve. However the story isn’t consistent across regions: Ontario and Quebec are the worst hit, with cases in Alberta picking up steam. B.C. and Atlantic provinces appear to be keeping a lid on the virus, though.

The House of Commons is conducting Parliament by Zoom today with a special committee meeting that approximates Question Period. (Watch here.)

Early March was a chaotic time in Ottawa as government and health officials began to realize the gravity of the COVID-19 pandemic and the devastation it would cause to the country’s economy. The Globe and Mail spoke with more than two dozen people involved in bailout efforts – inside and outside of government – to piece together an account of those early days and weeks. While the government moved faster than it ever has before, we’re still finding out if it moved fast enough.

Businesses are staring down another rent deadline on Friday, May 1. The government announced a rent-relief program last week, but many details are still to be made public and applications will not open until the middle of the month – leaving some businesses to wonder if they’ll make it that long.

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The Quebec government has chartered one of the world’s biggest planes to transport protective gear from China to Canada.

Taiwan is donating half a million masks to Canada.

And Margaret Trudeau is in the hospital after a fire at her building. Her son said she inhaled some smoke but is doing fine.

Campbell Clark (The Globe and Mail) on the vagueness of Ontario and Quebec plans to reopen: “This was a tale of two provinces. [Quebec Premier François] Legault wanted to get on with it. [Ontario Premier Doug] Ford was straining to be careful. We won’t know for months which will turn out better. But it would be nice if the premiers had something they could call a ‘plan.’”

Paul Wells (Maclean’s) on impatience v. caution: “People are full of bravado for society and sometimes less so for their circle. Two weeks seems a reasonably manageable timeframe for a partial resumption of what was, after all, everyone’s everyday life until mid-March. But push it forward and make it personal: How do you feel about sending your own son or daughter back to school tomorrow? Are you ready for a family dinner this weekend? Everyone’s got to die of something, so how about Uncle Ned in late May by drowning in his own pulmonary fluids? That’s a harder call.”

Paul Bennett (The Globe and Mail) on what schools will be like when they reopen: “Schools in Canada’s provincial K-12 systems will, in all likelihood, look significantly different whenever buildings reopen. Be prepared for changes, including staggered schedules and shifts; regular temperature monitoring; deep cleaning and stricter sanitization measures; physical-distance classrooms and movement routines; blended (combined seat-based and online) learning; classroom takeout lunch services; limited athletics and arts co-curricular programs; small, congregated special-needs/English-language learning classes; and academic “catch-up” programs to mitigate significant learning loss among certain cohorts of students.”

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Lise Ravary (Montreal Gazette) on coping with the lockdown: “I am often asked ‘what do you miss the most during the lockdown?’ The now makes such a simple question not so simple to answer. Now and before are becoming distinct in every aspect. As the weeks go by, what I loved the most is what I seem to miss the least.”

Andrew MacDougall (The Globe and Mail) on Conservative MP Derek Sloan’s questioning of the chief public health officer: “That someone of as little distinction as Mr. Sloan is within even shouting distance of the leadership of the party that formed government only five years ago is evidence of a rapid decline. The bigger problem for the party, however, is that it’s not clear most of its members disagree with Mr. Sloan’s world view, a suspicion seemingly confirmed by [Leader Andrew] Scheer’s silence and the muted criticism from other leading Conservatives.”

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