This is the half way point of the first week of March Break and the first full day of the Ontario State of Emergency. It’s estimated that tens of thousands of people were laid off yesterday when the province ordered the closure of bars, restaurants, recreational facilities, libraries, theatres, concert venues, childcare centres and private schools. Premier Ford also restricted public gatherings to no more than 50 people and prohibited public events such as parades, events and church services. The restrictions are in effect until at least March 31st.
WestJet says a total of 14 flights between February 28th and March 12th had passengers on board who tested positive for COVID-19. As a result, some of the other passengers may have been exposed to the virus. They made the announcement online last night, listing the flights and affected rows, saying those in affected areas are considered close contacts and could be at risk of exposure. Public health officials are recommending people who sat in those rows to self-isolate for 14 days after arrival and monitor symptoms.
The safety of our guests and crews is our top priority. @GovCanHealth has advised us of six additional flights with guests who have tested positive for COVID-19. See below the newly impacted flights and view all impacted flights here – https://t.co/IET6VECA9o pic.twitter.com/bIK18Qpm1w
— WestJet (@WestJet) March 18, 2020
The Canada U.S. Border:
The border with the U.S. could soon be locked down for all non-essential travel. A Canadian official says both countries have been in talks to restrict northbound and southbound travel to a limited few essential workers — including truck drivers, airline crew members and health-care workers. The source also noted that snowbirds — who are Canadian citizens or permanent residents but who winter in U.S. would also be exempted to give them time to get home.
— CanadianPM (@CanadianPM) March 18, 2020
A massive federal economic stimulus package is expected to be unveiled today, as Ottawa works to combat the economic shock of COVID-19. Yesterday, Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland noted that the country has the fiscal firepower to act swiftly and help Canadian workers and businesses position themselves to rebound. The government spending is likely to be significant — approximately $20-billion-dollars by the estimates of many economists, or one per cent of the value of the national economy. In the U.S., President Trump’s proposed economic package to rescue their economy could come with a price tag of nearly $1-trillion dollars.
If you have been impacted because of #COVID19 and need to apply for EI:
This is a dedicated line to help. The line may be overwhelmed with calls, please be patient and stay on the line or leave a voicemail.
For more details: https://t.co/cAEmAOHv8R
— Doug Shipley (@DougShipleyBSOM) March 17, 2020
Yesterday in Ontario a dozen new cases of COVID-19 were reported, bringing the total to 189 and there was one death. A 77-year-old man from the Muskoka region died in a Barrie hospital.
Starting tomorrow, the LCBO is reducing their hours. Stores will open at 11am and close at 6pm. They say this is a step in fighting the COVID-19 outbreak.
We’re taking the announcement from @ONgov seriously and are taking steps to support our people and our customers. Starting Thursday March 19, all LCBO stores will open from 11 a.m. until 6 p.m. daily. We know this is an evolving situation and will continue to keep you up to date. pic.twitter.com/c2bCRcwjP9
— LCBO (@LCBO) March 17, 2020
Education Minister Stephen Lecce says standardized testing has been cancelled for the rest of the school year. Classes have been cancelled at all public schools across the province until April 3rd.
Evictions in Ontario:
The Attorney General’s office says evictions are on hold during the COVID-19 outbreak. A spokeswoman for Doug Downey says sheriff’s offices across the province have been asked to postpone any scheduled enforcement of eviction orders set for this week. No new eviction orders will be issued until further notice.
— Doug Ford (@fordnation) March 17, 2020
Uber Pool has been suspended in the U.S. and Canada to help limit the spread of the coronavirus. The pooled option allows riders to book trips at lower prices by sharing the car with up to three other passengers traveling in the same direction. However, Uber has disabled the option in order to help the public maintain social distancing during the pandemic. Regular rides and the firm’s food delivery platform Uber Eats remain available, but Uber said it was in contact with local authorities to adjust operations as needed.
To flatten the curve of community spread in the cities we serve, we are suspending our Pool option in the US, Canada, London, and Paris.
We are in contact with local leaders globally and expect to take similar action when needed elsewhere.
— Uber (@Uber) March 17, 2020
Waterloo Region and Guelph:
Here in Waterloo Region, big changes as well. They have shut down all remaining municipal facilities to the public through April 5. This includes all city halls, administrative offices and even the regional headquarters. In a release, the region says all emergency services and all services deemed critical will continue, they are closely monitoring the situation and municipal services can be accessed online for the time being. Public access to all local police Service facilities are closed, effective immediately. The force says essential service to the community will continue and officers will be dispatched to emergency and non-emergency calls on a priority basis. They are encouraging people to make reports on their website.
JOINT MEDIA RELEASE: COVID-19 Update: All Remaining Municipal Facilities to close to the public up to and including April 5. Read full release here: https://t.co/BoELqgsH2A @CityKitchener @citywaterloo @cityofcambridge @WilmotTownship @wellesley_ca @northdumfries @Woolwichupdates
— Region of Waterloo (@RegionWaterloo) March 17, 2020
Conestoga College is shutting down all of its campuses and students that live in residence have been put on notice. They are being asked to move out by Saturday. Convocation in June has been postponed indefinitely. Tonight at 11:59pm is the deadline for Laurier students to move out of res. The UofW has given students until Friday.
COVID-19 Update: All Conestoga campuses closed to students and visitors effective immediately https://t.co/rSqMtHtuNm
— Conestoga College (@ConestogaC) March 17, 2020
Guelph Transit is making changes to slow the spread of coronavirus. Starting today they are cancelling late-night bus service indefinitely, having customers board and exit the bus using the back doors only and running on a Saturday schedule throughout the week. This means buses will now run every 30 minutes Monday through Saturday. Sunday service will remain the same. People with accessibility needs will still be able to get on and off the bus using the front door. Guelph Transit is also going to be free through April 15th.
Starting March 18, @guelphtransit is making service changes as part of our response to #coronavirus #COVID19. Changes are #free #transit through April 15, 2020, getting on/off bus at rear doors and operating on Saturday 30-min schedule (Mon-Sat). https://t.co/x5dmRcw6Vt #Guelph pic.twitter.com/CAERYrLoU6
— City of Guelph (@cityofguelph) March 17, 2020
Zehr’s is the latest shopping outlet to specify a “Golden Hour”. Starting today, 7-8am will be dedicated to seniors and those with physical disabilities to shop without the mass crowds that had been crashing the doors as soon as the stores open. Zehr’s says stores will be cleaned and sanitized prior to opening every morning to allow those, who are most at risk to contracting coronavirus, to get the supplies they need in a less crowded, and stress free environment.
Waterloo Region now has nine confirmed cases of COVID-19. A man, in his 20s, who had recently travelled to L.A. started developing systems after he returned home. He was tested at Grand River Hospital, and is now self-isolating at home. Two of the 9 cases are in hospital for treatment.
Update March 17: Dr Hsiu-Li Wang provides additional Public Health measures to prevent the spread of Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) in Waterloo Region. Read the statement online https://t.co/LCIcWRV6Qa pic.twitter.com/No5gxaJnce
— Region of Waterloo Public Health (@ROWPublicHealth) March 17, 2020
Photo Credit: Westjet via Twitter