Starting today Ontarians 18 and older can book a COVID-19 vaccine booster shot through the provincial portal — providing it’s been at least three months since their second shot. Pharmacies are also offering the boosters to younger adults as the province steps up efforts to battle the rampant spread of the Omicron variant. New public health restrictions have also been implemented to try to slow the COVID surge while the booster program is accelerated. They include 50 per cent capacity limits in restaurants, gyms, personal care services and retailers, while indoor social gatherings are now capped at 10 people.
We're rapidly accelerating our booster rollout by expanding eligibility to all individuals aged 18+, as well as shortening the interval to three months following your second dose. Please signup as soon as possible.
— Doug Ford (@fordnation) December 16, 2021
Many changes have been announced to COVID restrictions recently. Here are the latest developments: Crowd limits are now back in effect at stadiums, concert halls and other Ontario venues with a capacity of more than one thousand. They’re being limited to 50 per cent capacity to try to slow the spread of the Omicron variant. Restaurants, retailers and other indoor settings have their capacity limited to 50 per cent as well. The the cap on indoor social gatherings has been lowered to 10 from 25, while outdoor social gatherings will be limited to 25 people — down from 100. Canadians are still being urged not to travel outside of Canada. Anyone who leaves the country will require a negative PCR test that is done outside of Canada, to re-enter.
Today new public health measures come in effect in response to the Omicron variant.
This was not an easy decision, but these measures will slow the spread and protect hospital capacity while Team Ontario continues to get more booster shots into arms. https://t.co/jN6ZvX3WbT pic.twitter.com/804ovsZPeM
— Christine Elliott (@celliottability) December 19, 2021
The Impact on Businesses:
Many Ontario businesses say they’re worried about how the province’s new COVID-19 capacity rules will impact their livelihoods at a time of year crucial to their bottom line. The senior vice-president of public affairs for the Retail Council of Canada says most retailers should be able to manage, though some in high-traffic areas are concerned capacity restrictions during the busy holiday season could lead to lines and delays. The Ontario Chamber of Commerce is already calling for support for businesses hurt by the measurers.
The Impact on Sports:
The NHL is taking its own shot at COVID. The league and its players association are hoping the decision to temporarily ban Canadian- and American-based teams from crossing the border for games will stem the spread of the virus among its players and staff and save the season. The NHL is postponing all scheduled cross-border games from today through Thursday. Roughly 10 per cent of the players are in the league’s virus protocol. The NHL has also added the Detroit Red Wings to the list of teams told to shut down operations because of outbreaks. The other five teams in that same boat are the Calgary Flames, the Colorado Avalanche, Florida Panthers, Nashville Predators and Boston Bruins.
The NBA and its players association have put a plan in place in response to the current wave of COVID-19 cases. Teams will have roster flexibility and not have to worry about salary cap or luxury tax implications. The NBA and union will allow teams to sign a replacement player for each player under contract who is confirmed positive for the virus. A memo was sent to teams late Sunday night.
— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) December 20, 2021
There Is A Pfizer Shortage in Waterloo Region:
There’s a new twist in the push for booster shots. Waterloo Region Public Health says due to the high demand for third doses and an a provincial Pfizer vaccine shortage, all adults 30 and older will get Moderna for their first, second or third dose at vaccination clinics across Waterloo Region. The Pfizer vaccine that is available is being reserved for those 12-29 year old. There is no shortage of the pediatric dose of Pfizer so children 5-11 years old are not impacted by the shortage. Dr Wang says, “Moderna and Pfizer are both excellent mRNA vaccines. Getting a third dose of either is going to boost immunity against the Omicron variant.”
Watch the COVID-19 Community Update tomorrow at 11 a.m. for a local update on the recent acceleration of cases. Guests from local hospitals will join: Bonnie Camm @grhospitalkw, Lee Fairclough @StMarysGenHosp, Patrick Gaskin @_CMHospital. Watch here: https://t.co/mFKTZjvmuU pic.twitter.com/JbRDQhB2As
— Region of Waterloo (@RegionWaterloo) December 16, 2021
Israel Adds Canada To Their No-Fly List:
Canada has been added to Israel’s no-travel list. Israeli cabinet ministers today approved adding Canada and the United States to a travel ban amid the rapid, global spread of the Omicron variant of COVID-19. The two countries join a growing list of European nations to which Israelis are barred from travelling, and from which returning travellers must remain in quarantine. Pending approval from a parliamentary committee, the travel ban will take effect at midnight Wednesday.
Ontario reported almost 4,200 new COVID-19 cases yesterday — more than two-thirds of them in fully vaccinated people. It was the highest daily tally since April 23rd, and it helped double the province’s seven-day average of cases to more than 2,500. At least 283 COVID patients are currently hospitalized in Ontario — including 159 who are in intensive care and 103 on ventilators.
In Ontario, 25,315,780 vaccine doses have been administered. 90.4% of Ontarians 12+ have one dose and 87.8% have two doses.
283 people are hospitalized with #COVID19, and 159 people are in ICU due to COVID-19. Please note that not all hospitals report on weekends.
— Christine Elliott (@celliottability) December 19, 2021
Waterloo Region / Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Numbers:
Waterloo Region Public Health and Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health still do not report weekend numbers.
Dr. Nicola Mercer, Medical Officer of Health and CEO of Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health has issued a Letter of Instruction requiring remote work for workers where reasonably possible.
— WDG Public Health (@WDGPublicHealth) December 16, 2021
Contains files from The Canadian Press
Photo Credit: Region of Peel via Twitter