On April 30, 2020, the Chief Medical Officer of Health announced Newfoundland and Labrador’s plan for living with COVID-19: ‘A Foundation for Living with COVID-19‘. The plan includes five alert levels. Depending on the alert level, public health restrictions will be gradually relaxed. The province is currently at Alert Level 5 (the highest level).
Effective immediately, households may now spend time with one other household (creating a “double bubble“). People should not have close contact with anyone else outside a two-household double bubble.
The government has set May 11, 2020 as its target date for moving to Alert Level 4, provided specific conditions are met, including:
- no new COVID-19 cases where the source of infection is unknown;
- testing is widely available;
- there is consistent early detection of outbreaks and imported cases; and
- there is capacity in the health system to handle the COVID-19 caseload.
A complete list of the services and activities permitted during Alert Level 4 can be found in the government’s press release. No target date has been set for Alert Level 3 or lower.
The Premier stated that it is unlikely that schools will reopen before the end of the scheduled school year.
On May 8, 2020, the Newfoundland and Labrador Chief Medical Officer of Health stated that the province will move from Alert Level 5 to Alert Level 4 on Monday, May 11, 2020 if the number of new COVID-19 cases remains low over the weekend.
Under Alert Level 4, a number of public health measures will be relaxed to allow more social and business activities, while minimizing the risk of outbreaks. A list of the business and recreational activities that are permitted under Alert Level 4 can be found here.
Following the transition to Alert Level 4, it will take at least another 28 days to determine whether it is safe to move to Alert Level 3.
On Monday May 11, 2020, Newfoundland and Labrador entered Alert Level 4.
Under Alert Level 4, a number of public health measures have been relaxed to allow more social and business activities. A list of the business, health care and recreational activities that are permitted under Alert Level 4 can be found here.
The Chief Medical Officer of Health reminded employers that, even under Alert Level 4, they have an ongoing responsibility to ensure appropriate measures are in place such as:
- increased cleaning and ventilation;
- maintain physical distancing in the workplace; and
- work from home policies where possible.
On May 15, 2020, the Newfoundland and Labrador Minister of Education and Early Childhood Development announced that schools will be closed for the remainder of the current school year.
On May 16, 2020, the Chief Medical Officer of Health issued the Special Measures Order (Self-Isolation Exemption Order). The Self-Isolation Exemption Order exempts the following individuals from the requirement to self-isolate for 14 days after arriving in the province from elsewhere in Canada while these workers are travelling to and from their home and place of work:
- asymptomatic workers in the trade, transportation, mining, agriculture, hydro-electric and oil and gas sectors, including truck drivers and crew on any plane, helicopter, train, or marine vessel, including fish harvesting vessels;
- asymptomatic workers who reside in the province but who work in another province or territory in Canada;
- asymptomatic workers essential to the critical maintenance of the province’s infrastructure in the trade, transportation, health care, agriculture, fishing and aquaculture, hydro-electric, mining and oil and gas sectors; and
- asymptomatic health care workers essential to the provision of critical health care in the province, including organ retrieval teams, medical flight specialists, crew on any plane serving as an air ambulance or medevac operation.
When not working, these workers must otherwise self-isolate while in the province.
Due to the level of social and economic integration between towns and communities on the Newfoundland and Labrador-Quebec border, including the towns of Fermont and Blanc-Sablon, asymptomatic individuals who cross the border for work, school or health care reasons are also exempted from the requirement to self-isolate for 14 days when arriving in Newfoundland and Labrador from Quebec.
On May 22, 2020, the Newfoundland and Labrador Chief Medical Officer of Health announced that pet grooming services may resume on May 25, 2020. These businesses must:
- implement cleaning and disinfecting protocols;
- implement policies to ensure physical distancing;
- screen for potential COVID-19 exposure; and
- ensure staff wear appropriate personal protective equipment.
On May 25, 2020, the Newfoundland and Labrador Minister of Education and Childhood Development announced that schools will reopen for teachers on June 1, 2020. Schools will not reopen to students. The school year for students will conclude on June 5, 2020.
On May 27, 2020, the Newfoundland and Labrador government released guidance for personal services businesses and campground owners in advance of the expected move to Alert Level 3 next week under the COVID-19 Alert Level System.
Under Alert Level 3, the following personal services businesses are permitted to operate:
- hair salons/barber shops;
- spa and esthetic services;
- tattooing and piercing services; and
- tanning salons.
In addition, provincial, municipal and private campgrounds are permitted to open under Alert Level 3 for limited overnight camping, with restrictions.
Effective May 29, 2020, residents can expand their existing “double bubble” to create an “extended bubble”. Up to six (6) more people can be added to the existing “double bubble”. The people chosen to enter the extended bubble must stay the same and are not interchangeable. The new members of the extended bubble do not have to be from the same household.
The Chief Medical Officer of Health announced that residents who work on a rotational basis outside of the province but within Canada will no longer be required to remain on their property during self-isolation following their return to the province, provided they are not symptomatic and do not work at a facility involved in an outbreak investigation. These individuals will have to remain in their household bubble, but may go for walks, car rides, bike rides, etc. These individuals are not permitted to enter public buildings and must keep physical distance between all individuals outside of their household bubble.
On June 1, 2020, the Newfoundland and Labrador government extended the provincial public health emergency for a period of 14 days effective June 1, 2020.
On June 3, 2020, the Newfoundland and Labrador Chief Medical Officer of Health announced that the province will move from Alert Level 4 to Alert Level 3 on Monday, June 8, 2020 if the number of new COVID-19 cases remains low over the next few days.
Under Alert Level 3, a number of public health measures will be relaxed to allow more business and recreational activities. A list of the business and recreational activities that are permitted under Alert Level 3 can be found here.
On June 4, 2020, the Newfoundland and Labrador government announced that it will begin gradually increasing the number of public service employees in physical workspaces starting June 8, 2020. This coincides with Newfoundland and Labrador moving to Alert Level 3 in ‘NLife with COVID-19: A Foundation for Living with COVID-19.’
Over the coming days, employees who have been identified to return to the workplace will be contacted by their supervisor to discuss this transition. Any employee who is not contacted, should continue in their current work arrangement unless advised otherwise. Training materials have been prepared to assist employees returning to the workplace and will be available on PSAccess. This training will help ensure a safe transition, as well as highlight the new protocols that will be in place to ensure appropriate hygiene and physical distancing. This training is important for all employees, including those who have continued to work in government settings throughout the pandemic, as protocols will shift once the overall employee presence begins to increase.
On June 5, 2020, the Newfoundland and Labrador government announced that the province will move from Alert Level 4 to Alert Level 3 under its COVID-19 Alert Level System. Alert Level 3 includes the following:
- retail stores, including those in shopping malls, can open with restrictions;
- retail stores can sell scratch and break open lotto tickets;
- personal services establishments, including: spas, esthetic services, hair salons, body piercing, tattooing and tanning salons can open in accordance with guidelines;
- animal grooming facilities can resume operations;
- daycare operations will be further expanded; and
- restaurants can re-open at reduced occupancy (buffets remain prohibited).
On June 8, 2020, Newfoundland and Labrador moved from Alert Level 4 to Alert Level 3 under the province’s Alert Level System. A list of business activities permitted under Alert Level 3 can be found here.
On June 17, 2020, the Newfoundland and Labrador Chief Medical Officer of Health announced that the province will move to Alert Level 2 on June 25, 2020. A list of business and other activities permitted under Alert Level 2 can be found here.
On June 19, 2020, the Newfoundland and Labrador government announced that additional public service employees will return to their workplaces effective June 25, 2020. The move coincides with the transition to Alert Level 2 under the provincial COVID-19 Alert Level System.
On June 24, 2020, the Atlantic provinces announced they will form a form travel bubble. Interprovincial travel without the requirement to self-isolate will be permitted in Newfoundland and Labrador, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia, for residents of Atlantic Canada as of July 3. Visitors from other Canadian provinces and territories must adhere to the local entry requirements in place in each of the four jurisdictions. Other Canadian visitors to the Maritime provinces that have self-isolated for 14 days may then travel within the Maritime region. The premiers noted that the decision to ease travel restrictions in the region was guided by the chief medical officers of health in each province and will continue to be closely monitored. All public health directives present in each province must be adhered to, including not traveling if you have any symptoms of COVID-19 and practising physical distancing and good hand hygiene. Each province will choose their own processes to track and monitor travelers.In A
In addition, the Newfoundland and Labrador’s Chief Medical Officer of Health announced that the province will enter Alert Level 2 on June 25, 2020.
The following businesses and services are permitted to open at a reduced occupancy in Alert Level 2:
- bars and lounges (karaoke and use of dance floors are not permitted);
- indoor entertainment facilities, including movie theatres, bingo halls and bowling alleys; and
- performance spaces, including arts and culture centres.
Outdoor gatherings of up to 50 people are permitted if physical distancing is maintained.
A full list of business and other activities permitted under Alert Level 2 can be found here.
On June 26, 2020, the Newfoundland and Labrador’s Chief Medical Officer of Health issued a Special Measures Order in respect of travel across the Labrador-Quebec border. The Order is effective as of June 25, 2020 and provides the following:
- all individuals arriving in Newfoundland and Labrador by motor vehicle from the province of Quebec must immediately stop at their point of entry when indicated by a representative of the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador;
- individuals who arrive in the province from Quebec via the Newfoundland and Labrador-Quebec border and who are exempted from the requirement to self-isolate are also exempted from the requirement to complete and submit a declaration form and a self-isolation plan when they enter the province;
- due to the interprovincial travel amongst local communities on the Newfoundland and Labrador-Quebec border and the level of social and economic integration between the communities of Labrador City, Wabush and Fermont and the Labrador Straits area of Blanc Sablon, asymptomatic individuals who are permanent residents of one of these communities and cross the Newfoundland and Labrador-Quebec border are exempted from the requirement to self-isolate for 14 days when arriving in Newfoundland and Labrador provided that:
- they have not travelled beyond the named communities in the previous 14 days;
- residents of Labrador West do not travel beyond the boundary of the community of Fermont or the Mount Wright Mining Complex turn off at Rue 389;
- residents of Fermont do not travel beyond the community boundaries of Labrador City and Wabush;
- residents of the Labrador Straits area do not travel beyond the community of Blanc Sablon; and
- residents of Blanc Sablon do not travel beyond the Labrador Straits area.
On July 2, 2020, Newfoundland and Labrador join New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island in an Atlantic Canada travel bubble on July 3, 2020. For details see NB reopening plan section.
On July 6, 2020, the Newfoundland and Labrador Premier and the Minister of Education and Early Development released the Newfoundland and Labrador K-12 Education Re-entry Plan for a return to school in September 2020. The Plan provides for three scenarios:
- in-school classes resume (near normal with health measures);
- in-school classes partially resume (with additional health measures); and
- at-home learning (in-school classes are suspended/cancelled).
On July 8, 2020, the Newfoundland and Labrador Chief Medical Officer of Health amended the Special Measures Order (General Alert Level 2) to clarify the requirements applicable to bars. The Special Measures Order (Bar Establishment Amendments) provides that businesses that hold a license under the Liquor Control Act, whose primary purpose is the consumption of beer, wine, or spirits may open and operate at 50 percent of the approved capacity provided physical distancing may be maintained. Dance floors are prohibited.