All of Ontario is going into lockdown starting on Boxing Day, as the province is battling soaring COVID19 cases. The same restrictions will apply across the province that are currently in place across most of the GTA and Windsor-Essex. Those include the closure of non-essential businesses and fitness facilities, no indoor dining and more. The businesses that do remain open will face strict capacity limits. The lockdown also means schools across the province will move to online learning from January 4th to 8th, after which students will return to in-person learning, depending on their location and grade level. Southern Ontario will remain in the Grey Zone until January 23rd. The lockdown will lift for northern Ontario on January 9th.
Here is Premier Ford’s announcement from yesterday:
Lockdowns Will Help Avoid Thousands of Cases Per Day:
Ontario’s health advisors say tough lockdowns lasting a month or so could cut the daily cases significantly. New projections show infections continue to rise in the province. The advisory table says if case rates continue to grow, the province will have 3,000 to 5,000 cases daily by the end of January.
Ontario is imposing a Provincewide Shutdown effective Dec 26 at 12:01 a.m. This was not an easy decision, but we have reached a tipping point. Urgent action must be taken to stop the spread of COVID19, preserve health system capacity, and save lives. https://t.co/3QyPd2UiPl pic.twitter.com/gr2JA57eYA
— Christine Elliott (@celliottability) December 21, 2020
The CRA is Ready to Name Names:
The Canada Revenue Agency is launching a website to help Canadians track which employers have been using government wage subsidies during the COVID19 pandemic. The CRA says its Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy Registry is part of a push for transparency around the government program. The announcement notes the agency has a separate web page for people to report businesses who wrongfully claimed a subsidy. The government estimates the $54-billion dollars in wage subsidy payments have protected about four million jobs.
We have resumed contacting taxpayers and businesses with balances owing by letters and by phone. We understand these are challenging times and we’re here to help! https://t.co/7KxCjbnleH #CdnTax pic.twitter.com/kqZAb7QGes
— Canada Revenue Agency (@CanRevAgency) December 21, 2020
Air Canada Suspends Flights to the UK:
Air Canada says it has temporarily suspended flights between Canada and the UK, in keeping with a government directive. The airline says it is notifying affected passengers and offering them other travel options, including flights with other carriers or to other locations. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced on Sunday that Canada would restrict travel from the UK for 72 hours. The announcement came after officials raised concerns about a new, more infectious strain of COVID19 spreading in Britain.
UK Studying New Strain of COVID19:
Scientists in the United Kingdom are still trying to understand just how transmissible and possibly lethal a new strain of the novel coronavirus is. Canada and several other countries have banned travel from the UK, in an attempt to keep out the variant, which British health officials say appears to be more contagious. WHO Emergencies Chief Dr. Mike Ryan says there’s no evidence that the strain causes more severe COVID19 symptoms.
Given the early evidence we have on this new variant of the virus, and the potential risk it poses, it is with a heavy heart that I must tell you we cannot continue with Christmas as planned. (2/3)
— Boris Johnson (@BorisJohnson) December 19, 2020
Almost a Year Later, The Feds Are Now Dealing With “Gaps” in Canada’s Protections for Airline Passengers:
Federal Transport Minister Marc Garneau is telling the Canadian Transportation Agency to strengthen rules that require airlines to refund passengers for cancelled flights. Garneau says the pandemic has revealed a gap in Canada’s protections for airline passengers. He says in the event of a future situation that causes similar large-scale flight cancellations, the gap needs to be closed so that travellers are treated fairly. Airlines maintain they are not legally required to issue refunds and have criticized Ottawa for its delay in issuing more assistance to the sector.
Today, I issued the following statement to direct the Canadian Transportation Agency to ensure that the interests of Canadians are protected when they travel by air. ➡️ https://t.co/s05POtcykW
— Marc Garneau (@MarcGarneau) December 21, 2020
Poll Finds Many COVID Positive Canadians Were Fearful:
A new Leger poll suggests 35 per cent of Canadians who tested positive for COVID19 worried they would die. The survey for the Association for Canadian Studies also found that nearly 25 per cent of infected people knew someone who did die from it. 43 per cent of respondents reported feeling very sick, 27 per cent were not very sick and 14 per cent were asymptomatic. The online polling was conducted from July 3rd to November 29th, and cannot be assigned a margin of error.
There were 2,123 new cases of the virus reported yesterday in Ontario.
Ontario is reporting 2,123 cases of #COVID19 and over 54,500 tests completed. Locally, there are 611 new cases in Toronto, 480 in Peel, 192 in York Region and 138 in Windsor-Essex County.
Today’s numbers will be available at 10:30 a.m. at https://t.co/ypmgZbVRvn.
— Christine Elliott (@celliottability) December 21, 2020
The office of Ontario’s solicitor general says there are 54 inmates with COVID19 at a Toronto detention centre. The ministry says cases at Toronto South Detention Centre have been isolated from the rest of the inmates while they receive care. It says voluntary testing of staff and inmates within the same units are underway.
Here is yesterday’s Toronto Update:
Quebec Numbers Still Soaring:
Yesterday Quebec reported a third straight day of more than two-thousand COVID19 cases. Health officials announced 2,108 new cases and 30 deaths linked to the novel coronavirus.
Update on BC Cases:
British Columbia’s top doctor says cases of COVID19 seem to be levelling off in the province. But Dr. Bonnie Henry says many seniors are dying and case counts remain high, especially in the Lower Mainland. The province reported 1,667 new cases yesterday (Monday) over a three-day period, as well as 41 more deaths. Over 3,600 people have received their COVID19 vaccine in BC so far — most of them health-care workers.
Moderna is Setting Up a Canadian Office:
US biotech firm Moderna is establishing a Canadian office as it prepares for approval of its COVID19 vaccine. Patricia Gauthier, the new general manager for Moderna’s Canadian office, says the company had been eyeing expanding outside the United States before the pandemic. Health Canada is in the final stage of its review of Moderna’s vaccine.
NDP Calling for More Indigenous Vaccination:
The NDP’s health critic is urging the Trudeau government to develop a plan to distribute COVID19 vaccines in Indigenous communities experiencing outbreaks. Don Davies says the government should detail a plan to ensure Pfizer-BioNTech’s vaccine will be delivered to Indigenous communities, or to consider flying people from remote communities to major centres to get a shot. Indigenous Services Canada says it’s working closely with Indigenous and non-Indigenous partners to support COVID19 vaccinations for Indigenous people.
"Vaccination access should be based on one thing: vulnerability," Davies said. "When we see Indigenous communities who are vulnerable all across this country and experiencing outbreaks at the highest levels in this country, then we must respond.''https://t.co/smNct6EXtK
— Don Davies MP (@DonDavies) December 21, 2020
California Running Out of Capacity in Hospitals:
California is desperately searching for nurses, doctors and other medical staff as COVID19’s surge pushes hospitals to the breaking point. The state is running out of capacity to treat the most severe cases of the novel coronavirus. It has brought in and deployed more than 500 temporary medical staff members, but it needs a total of 3,000.
— Office of the Governor of California (@CAgovernor) December 21, 2020
Joe Biden Has Been Vaccinated:
Joe Biden received the first dose of his COVID19 vaccine in Delaware yesterday, posing for the cameras as a local nurse administrated the shot. “There is nothing to worry about,” he said as he reassured the public the vaccine was safe.
Today, I received the COVID-19 vaccine.
To the scientists and researchers who worked tirelessly to make this possible — thank you. We owe you an awful lot.
And to the American people — know there is nothing to worry about. When the vaccine is available, I urge you to take it. pic.twitter.com/QBtB620i2V
— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) December 22, 2020
The EU Has Approved The Pfizer-BioNTech Vaccine:
The European Union has given official approval for the coronavirus vaccine developed by BioNTech and Pfizer to be put onto the market across the 27-nation bloc. The move sets the stage for the first COVID19 shots across to begin just after Christmas. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen calls it a “very good way to end this difficult year.” The approval came just hours after the EU’s drug regulatory agency said the vaccine meets safety and quality standards.
New Restrictions in South Korea:
Starting Christmas Eve, South Korea will prohibit private social gatherings of five or more people and shut down ski resorts and major tourist spots nationwide. The restrictions widen similar plans announced by authorities in the Seoul metropolitan area to a national level. They’re also the most serious step the government has taken so far to reinstate social distancing after months of complacency. The measures will be in place at least until January 3rd.
Waterloo Region / WDG Numbers:
Waterloo Region Public Health reported 96 new cases yesterday and another new death. The death toll has now risen to 143. Active cases are now up to 577. There are now 31 people hospitalized.
Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health announced 133 new cases yesterday from the weekend. 20 were in Wellington, 35 were in Dufferin and 68 were in Guelph. There are now 152 active cases and 10 people hospitalized.
Complete this five-minute survey to help us determine where the risks of community transmission of COVID-19 are high.
— WDG Public Health (@WDGPublicHealth) December 21, 2020
Contains files from The Canadian Press
Photo Credit: CPAC via YouTube screenshot