Justin Trudeau says we won’t return to complete normalcy until a vaccine is produced

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At an April 9 press conference, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said that the country is unlikely to return to complete pre-COVID-19 normalcy until a vaccine is developed, but he did indicate that current physical distancing measures could be eased in a gradual fashion once the first wave of the virus passes.

He also said that measures the government is implementing now regarding testing, tracking and social distancing can be used to better mitigate any future "wave-lits" of outbreaks.

Researchers have suggested that a vaccine could be anywhere from 12 to 18 months away. 

In a sombre but somewhat hopeful address, Trudeau addressed a devastating report that revealed that over 1 million Canadians have lost their jobs in response to the crisis, as well as newly-released models that indicate that at least 11,000 people could die by the time the pandemic passes. 

Trudeau reiterated that the models suggest that the best-case scenario is a peak in cases in late spring with the first wave ending in the summer. 

"There will likely be smaller outbreaks for months after that. This will be new normal until a vaccine is developed. We must rise to the challenge of this generation," Trudeau said. 

The prime minister also announced that 4.5 million people have applied for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit, adding that some people have already received their $2,000 fo the month.

He said the government is currently negotiating with opposition parties to recall the House of Commons to pass legislation related to the wage subsidy for businesses impacted by the pandemic. The passage has been delayed by debate over how Parliament will work in the coming months with physical distancing measures in place. 

Trudeau said that Canada can better manage the crisis by ramping up testing and contract tracing and emphasizing the current important of physical distancing measures. He said that doing so now will ensure that any new waves will be easier to manage. 

Trudeau also said the health care system is currently able to cope with the pandemic, but the country is far from out of the woods. 

"What we're doing today is making a difference, we're hopeful we can get through this in the shortest amount of time. We know that in order for it to be as short as it can and harm as few Canadians as possible, we need to keep doing what we're doing," Trudeau said. 

"After we're through the first wave, we will be much better equipped with aggressive testing and aggressive contact tracing and Canadians knowing how to socially distance when and where necessary. We'll be in better shape."

Trudeau said that as Canada comes through the first wave, it will be able to open up the economy to a certain extent and set aside some restrictions as it "manages the new reality," adding that the government is prepared to provide any necessary financial support for as long as necessary.  

When asked if the government will need to implement stricter measures to enforce physical distancing measures, Trudeau said that Canadians are listening and that the government is willing to do more if necessary.

"We have seen that measures have been taken seriously and that people are staying home and only going out for necessities," he said.

"Can we do more to strengthen and improve? Sure, we'll look at that. We're looking at stronger and more sophisticated testing protocols and developing tools for better contact tracing. That will have the best impact on keeping this curve as short and as low as possible."

When questioned by reporters, Trudeau said that while we won't be back to "full-on normalcy" for a while, changes made now will make the country more resilient in the face of any future outbreaks. 

"Normality won't be back full-on until a vaccine, but once we're through this first wave, we'll have tools and habits that will make us more resilient to outbreaks and spreads. We're developing tools that will help us when wave-lits come forward in the coming months."

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