Newfoundland and Labrador is starting the month of June with no new cases of COVID-19, the fourth day in a row with zero.
The province's case total stands at 261 with 255 people having recovered from the virus, the provincial government announced Monday at a briefing. There are currently three active cases of the virus, with one person in hospital.
Monday also marked three weeks of the province living under Alert Level 4 of the provincial government's reopening strategy, with move to Alert Level 3 tentatively planned for June 8.
"Our ability to keep the case numbers low during this phase is a true testament to what our consistent and collaborative efforts can achieve," said Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Janice Fitzgerald during the briefing.
As of Monday, 12,253 people have been tested for the virus — 57 since Sunday's update.
Watch the full June 1 update:
Fitzgerald clarified the province's guidelines allowing people to expand their double bubbles by up to six more people, announced Friday, reminding people that each household in a double bubble does not get to add six people. Rather, six people total may be added to the entire double bubble.
"The purpose of this expansion is to allow each of us to have more social connection while keeping our risk for COVID-19 as low as possible," Fitzgerald said.
Health Minister John Haggie said if the province continues to see few to no cases of the virus it will be well positioned to move to Alert Level 3 next week, and Fitzgerald said it would take a significant number of new cases, or a rapid increase in new cases, especially cases without an apparent source, to prevent the province from moving to a new phase.
"That would be a case that's not related to travel, or not related to another case or we couldn't find what the source of that infection was. We would have to have several of those before we would think about changing those plans at this stage," she said.
Alert Level 3
In the two weeks since the Victoria Day weekend, there has been just one new case of the virus in the province — a travel-related one — but Fitzgerald says that doesn't mean the province is in the clear.
"There could be people who've been brewing symptoms for three or four days that we don't know about yet, but certainly there doesn't appear to be a large number of cases that have resulted from activities on the May 24th weekend," Fitzgerald said. "But I would never jinx it to say we're in the clear."
Asked if the provincial government will use another 28-day assessment period before moving from Level 3 to Level 2, Fitzgerald said it's too soon to tell.
"There's going to be a lot of things opening in Level 3. There's going to be a lot more movement in Level 3. We're going to see sports, to some degree, restarting in Level 3. I think we really need to wait and see what the effects of that opening will be," she said.
Wearing a mask
Fitzgerald said Monday she hopes more people will start wearing masks in public. In early April, Theresa Tam, Canada's chief public health officer, recommended people wear non-medical masks when physical distancing is difficult or impossible, such as when shopping for groceries. Provinces followed her lead with their own recommendations on the use of non-medical masks.
"We have to think about this in terms of protection of other people, and that if everyone is doing it then it protects all of us," said Fitzgerald, especially as more businesses are set to reopen under Level 3.
"People on Metrobus is something that comes to my mind right off the bat — wearing a non-medical mask in that situation where you're in close contact for a short period of time would be beneficial."