COVID-19 measures could be in place for 'many, many weeks, if not months': PM

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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau hinted that the current measures in place across the country to prevent the spread of COVID-19, could be in place for a lot longer.

In responding to reports that a leaked federal document claims that Canada's 'best case scenario' would see measures in place until at least July or August, Trudeau said that they've considered a "wide range of scenarios."

At his daily press conference held outside of his home on Wednesday (April 1), he said it is definitely possible that the current measures could be in place "for many, many weeks, if not, months to come.

"The length of time depends on the choices and behaviour of Canadians right now," he said. "Our actions now have a direct impact on how long this will last."

When pressed for a firm timeline, Trudeau said that it's nearly impossible to commit to a time when the danger will have passed.

"We're still working to flatten the curve," he said, explaining that the upcoming days and weeks will be a crucial time in battling COVID-19.

"How well we do this right now determines how our country will be in two weeks or two months," he said.

In terms of arming the front lines in the battle against the virus, Trudeau said that they are expecting a big delivery of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) in the "next few days or even sooner," and they will be working hard to send those supplies to the areas they are most needed.

He applauded the number of Canadian enterprises that have retooled their businesses to help produce and distribute PPE across the country.

"There has been an overwhelming response from businesses volunteering to manufacture what we need," he said, pointing out that in the U.S. where they've enacted the Military Production Act, Canada will not have to resort to those kinds of measures.

Later Wednesday, the Federal Finance Minister is expected to provide further details on the federal benefits announced last week to support businesses and workers but Trudeau provided some updates on how people can access them.

The Canadian Emergency Wage Subsidy, which covers 75 per cent of an employee's wage, is available for big and small businesses who are not publically funded and who have experienced a 30 per cent decline in revenues.

"Employers will have to demonstrate that they are trying to pay employees the remaining 25 per cent," Trudeau explained. "There will be stiff and severe penalties for those who seek to take advantage of the system and fellow Canadians."

He also announced that starting April 6, for those who have not already applied for EI, they can go to canada.ca and apply directly for the Canadian Emergency Response Benefit (CERB).

Anyone who has already applied for EI is already set, he said.

People who receive the CERB will have to check in every month to confirm that they still remain out of work.

"This is the largest economic program in Canada's history," he said, and given its immensity, Parliament will need to reconvene.

"We haven't seen this kind of civic mobilization since the Second World War," Trudeau said.

"The government alone cannot win this fight. We all have to answer the call of duty. Staying home is your way to serve."

Photo courtesy The Canadian Press

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