MONTREAL (Reuters) – The major Canadian province of Quebec, among the worst hit by the coronavirus, started gradually restarting its economy on Monday while Prime Minister Justin Trudeau maintained his cautious stance.
Quebec is allowing stores with an outside entrance for customers to reopen but this does not apply to Montreal, Canada’s second largest city, where retail establishments must wait until May 11.
Although Quebec makes up 24% of the Canadian population, it accounts for 54% of the cases and 60% of the deaths. Canada has so far reported 59,844 positive diagnoses and 3,766 deaths, official data showed on Monday.
Most Quebec cases have occurred in seniors’ residences and among the elderly and the government of Premier Francois Legault says the time is right to start gradually lifting restrictions. He also says some schools will reopen this month.
“We still need to be extremely careful, not just for our seniors but for everyone around us. So don’t go out unless you absolutely have to,” Trudeau said on Monday.
“Even as the economy is starting to gradually reopen our focus is on keeping people safe,” he told reporters.
Air Canada (AC.TO) posted a bigger-than-expected quarterly loss, and its shares sank 5% as the carrier warned third-quarter capacity would slump about 75% as people stay home.
Trudeau said Ottawa would help the airline and tourism sectors and promised an announcement in the next week. He did not give details.
The provinces have a large amount of control over their economies and health care systems and Trudeau has so far not offered any criticism.
But he appeared uncertain when asked by public broadcaster Radio Canada whether he would allow his children to go back to school if he lived in Quebec.
He paused before replying “I don’t know”, while noting schools in Ontario – the most populous of Canada’s 10 provinces – were not going to reopen soon.
The exchange was part of an interview with Trudeau that was broadcast on Sunday night.
Louise Labrie, a union leader who represents workers at public-subsidized daycares, said many Quebec parents had to decide right away whether to send their children back.
Many of the staff who have health conditions are afraid of being called back to work, despite the promise of masks, she said by phone.
“We have workers who are vulnerable, who have chronic illness, or live with a vulnerable family member,” she said.
Source: Read Full Article