Trudeau To Speak At 1pm – Full COVID-19 Update

It’s officially March Break and unlike in past years, most things are closed for families. Here’s the latest on COVID-19: Again today we are asking ourselves to socially distance ourselves from other people to stop the virus from spreading. If possible, work from home. Avoid large gatherings and having close contact with others. As always: Wash your hands regularly. And please don’t shake hands and avoid touching your face.

The Ontario government says it’s drafting a bill to ban employers from demanding sick notes for those in self-isolation or quarantine because of COVID-19. Under the legislation, employers will have to ensure protected leave for workers who have to take unpaid leave to be in self-isolation or quarantine. The premier’s office did not immediately say when the bill will come before the legislature or if an emergency session would be called. It’s widely expected that the government will soon ask most businesses to close.

Canadians should get a better understanding of what’s to come in the fight against the COVID-19 outbreak today, when Justin Trudeau delivers an update to the nation. The Prime Minister is scheduled to make a national address this afternoon at 1:00pm. The update comes as the number of confirmed cases in Canada climbed to 341 over the weekend. Yesterday Ontario reported 42 new cases. That is the biggest one day spike yet and brings the provincial total to at least 145.

Yesterday the Prime Minister appearaed on CTV Power Play. Here is the full video:

Amidst the COVID-19 outbreak, Canadians abroad now have a choice — stay put for an extended time, or come home. Over the weekend, Prime Minister Trudeau said nothing was off the table when it comes to Canada’s response to the spread of the virus, including the possibility of border closures. Anyone returning to Canada is expected to observe a 14-day period of self-isolation.

The Canada Border Services Agency says an employee at Pearson airport has tested positive for COVID-19. The agency says it’s notifying all Toronto Pearson staff who may have come in contact with the patient.  The worker is currently in self-isolation. The agency isn’t saying whether the person came in contact with travellers making their way through the airport.

The province is now asking hospitals to cancel all non-emergency procedures as they prepare for an influx of COVID-19 patients. If you have a procedure or clinical visit scheduled, it is likely not happening but you should check with your Dr. The ministry says the measure is aimed at helping hospitals preserve capacity as cases of COVID-19 continue to grow in Ontario.

Ontario’s Superior Court of Justice says is suspending all operations except for those that are most urgent. It says all trials will be adjourned, unless ordered otherwise. In-progress jury trials are to receive direction from the presiding judge later today. Judicial pretrials, meantime, will be handled by phone and documents are to be filed to the trial co-ordinator electronically. And the Ontario Court of Justice says that as of today, people scheduled to appear in the lower court need not show up unless the matter is “an in-custody or urgent criminal matter or an urgent family matter.”

Starting today all Provincial Offences Act courtrooms in Toronto will be closed until April 3rd. Individuals who were expected to appear in court are not required to attend and will be notified of new court dates. The 30 P.O.A. courtrooms across Toronto hear all provincial offences matters as well as offences against municipal bylaws. All legislative timelines for tickets that had’t expired prior to Sunday have been extended.

It could be another turbulent trading week on Bay and Wall Street. Asian markets and U.S. futures are down after the Federal Reserve slashed interest rates to shore up economic growth. In addition, more governments are imposing anti-virus controls that are shutting down business and travel. The Dow twice plunged by more than 2,000 points and also posted its biggest-ever point gain – 1,985 — Friday. The T-S-X staged a 10 per cent rebound, after its biggest-ever one day decline Thursday. It still finished down more than 15 per cent on the week.

The COVID-19 outbreak is forcing VIA Rail to scale back service in its corridor from Windsor to Quebec City to comply with government guidelines for social distancing. The company says it will reduce service by 50 per cent in the busy corridor, which includes routes between Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto and London, Ont. VIA Rail says it experienced a significant reduction in passenger volume last week.

Ontario has closed all casinos as a precaution during the COVID-19 outbreak. The Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation says the closures began Sunday and should be fully implemented by later today. It doesn’t say when the casinos are expected to reopen.

Italy shocked the world yesterday by announcing 368 new coronavirus deaths the day before—the highest one-day death toll anywhere since the outbreak began.   Italy’s overall death toll is now 1,809 and its crippling caseload over 24,700. Italian officials have essentially put the country on lockdown, barring all sports and public gatherings, closing many retailers, and imposing internal travel restrictions.

Nike said yesterday it is closing all of its stores to limit the spread of the coronavirus.  Nike stores in Canada, the U.S., Western Europe, Australia and New Zealand will be closed from March 16 to 27.

Waterloo Region has announced all municipally-run cultural recreational facilities will be closed through April 5. This includes all arenas, pools, community centres and libraries. The Region’s five (directly operated) child care centres are closed and only essential visitors are allowed at Sunnyside Home. Day camps are cancelled and so are all recreational programs and activities.  So what can you do? Officials point out that parks, trails and outdoor spaces remain open.  GRT buses and ION trains are currently on a regular schedule, but that may change. Garbage and recycling collection is still happening as usual. Yesterday Waterloo Public Health confirmed two more cases of COVID-19.  The region is now up to 8 and counting. All of Waterloo Region’s cases are in self-isolation at home, except for case number three. He is currently in hospital, in stable condition. COVID-19 is impacting local shopping too. Starting today, Fairview Park Mall & Conestoga Mall are reducing their hours. Weekdays the malls will be open from 11am to 7pm. Saturdays will be from 11am to 6pm and Sunday’s will be 11am to 5pm. In addition to the reduced hours, all events scheduled to take place inside the mall, including group yoga and seminars are cancelled.

Photo Credit: CTV News / Power Play via YouTube screenshot

 

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Scott Fox and Kat Callaghan