Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Tuesday urged Canadian provinces and territories to “do the right thing” and protect public health as coronavirus cases continue to surge across much of Canada.
Trudeau’s advice comes as Manitoba announced tightened restrictions on Tuesday — forcing non-essential stores, gyms and places of worship to close and banning social gatherings in an effort to stop a spike in COVID-19 cases. Manitoba leads all other provinces in per-capita active cases.
On the same day, Ontario reported 1,388 new cases of coronavirus, another new single-day record, bringing the provincial total to 86,783.
“We are seeing record spikes this morning across the country so we urge premiers and mayors to please do the right thing, act now to protect public health,” Trudeau said. “I would hope that no leader in our country is easing public health vigilance because they feel pressured not to shut down businesses.”
He added that is how “we end up going out of business and hurting the economy even more.”
Canada is in the middle of a very “concerning” spike of coronavirus cases, with winter expected to bring “real challenges” he said.
Trudeau stressed that the federal government cannot tell the provinces and territories what to do, but will offer support during the upcoming winter months amid the second coronavirus wave, that so far has infected more than 270,000 people with 10,600 confirmed deaths.
“Acting quickly to shut down early, to bring down restrictions is better than delaying and hoping it will go away on its own,” Trudeau said. “We aren’t doing favours to businesses by trying to keep them open longer when we know cases are continuing to spike.”
Since the pandemic’s onset in the spring, many Canadian businesses closed down and provinces are still reeling from the economic fallout amid tightened restrictions during the first wave.
A survey released in October by the Business Development Bank of Canada found that small- and medium-sized businesses were hit hard by the crisis, with 76 per cent reporting a decline in revenues and profits during the first wave of the pandemic.
And according to Statistics Canada, more than 56,000 businesses closed in June amid coronavirus fallout.