Toronto and Peel Region are moving into lockdown as of midnight on Monday, Ontario Premier Doug Ford announced. The new restrictions for these hotspot regions will include no indoor gatherings with anyone outside a person’s household — although schools, daycares, grocery stores and pharmacies will remain open.
“I know this is difficult news today, it’s not where we want to be,” Ford said at a Friday news conference. “But my friends, I have faith Ontario will weather through this storm together.”
Individuals who live alone can have close contact with one other household, while outdoor gatherings are limited to 10 people. Restaurants will be limited to take-out, drive-thru and delivery only, while non-essential retail and malls will be limited to curbside pickup or delivery only.
The lockdown will last a minimum of 28 days and the province said it will fine people $750 for violating public health rules. “We have flattened the epidemic curve before and I am confident we can do it again,” Ontario Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Williams said.
Ford also announced up to $600 million in relief for business impacted by these measures.
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Toronto Mayor John Tory said he fully supports the move to put the city into lockdown. “We asked the province for further actions because the numbers continue to go in the wrong direction,” Tory told reporters.
“We have to stop this virus now to save lives. We simply cannot have a healthy economy if we don’t have healthy people.”
Earlier, the province reported 1,418 more cases of COVID-19 on Friday, including 393 in Toronto, 400 in Peel Region and 168 in York Region. The newly confirmed infections push the seven-day average up to 1,373 after three straight days of declines.
Ontario also announced that eight more people with COVID-19 have died since the last update, bringing the official death toll to 3,451.
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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the prospect of a normal holiday season this year is “right out of the question.”
“We are facing [a] winter that’s going to drive people inside more and more, and we’re really at risk of seeing caseloads go up, and hospitals get overwhelmed, and more loved ones dying,” he said at a news briefing outside Rideau Cottage.
“So we need to do everything we can right now to slow the spread of COVID-19, to stop the spike in its tracks.”
Trudeau also made a plea to Canadians to think about the front-line workers now risking their lives, and the lives of their family members, to keep people safe.
“They have been heroes. They have been going above and beyond anything they might have thought they were signing up for,” he said. “We need to help them. We need to give them a break. We need to stop this spike in cases.”
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Meanwhile, new modelling showed that Canada could see 20,000 COVID-19 cases per day by the end of the year if people maintain their current number of personal contacts. The modelling charts prepared by the Public Health Agency of Canada also project a worse-case scenario of 60,000 a day by the end of December if Canadians increase their current level of contact with other people.
Conversely, limiting interactions to essential activities while maintaining physical distancing and adhering to other public health guidelines could bring that number to under 10,000 cases a day by that time, according to the modelling.
“We are not on a good trajectory,” Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam said Friday. “I think across the board, across Canada, we have to say the time is now, with urgency, that we limit contacts.”
Tam noted that infections are spreading across a wider geographic area of Canada compared to the first wave. She also said hospitals and health-care systems are under strain as the surge in cases pushes some to capacity and leads to the postponement of other medical procedures.
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What’s happening across Canada
Canada’s COVID-19 case count — as of Friday evening — stood at 320,719, with 52,739 of those considered active cases. A CBC News tally of deaths based on provincial reports, regional health information and CBC’s reporting stood at 11,334.
Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller announced $120.3 million in funding to support Indigenous communities and organizations in Alberta and Saskatchewan amid a recent spike in COVID-19 cases.
Miller said he has been in contact with First Nations leaders in those provinces, and that today’s measures are in direct response to their requests.
“Listening to what people need has been a key part of the COVID-19 response for the Government of Canada to date and will continue to inform the way forward,” he said at a news conference.
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British Columbia had 516 new COVID-19 cases and 10 more deaths on Friday, according to the B.C. Centre for Disease Control.
The new numbers come one day after Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced wide-ranging new restrictions.. They include mandatory masks in indoor public and retail spaces and restricting social gatherings for everyone in B.C. to household members only.
Alberta reported a record 1,155 new cases on Friday. Dr. Deena Hinshaw, the province’s chief medical officer of health, also announced 11 more deaths.
Earlier, Trudeau urged Albertans to download the federal COVID-19 notification app, despite the fact Alberta and B.C. governments haven’t signed on.
Saskatchewan reported 153 new COVID-19 cases and one new death on Friday.
Manitoba surpassed 200 COVID-19 deaths on Friday as officials announced nine new deaths, including a Winnipeg man in his 20s — the youngest person in the province to have died from the virus.
“These are not just numbers. This was a son, a Manitoban,” Chief Provincial Public Health Officer Dr. Brent Roussin said.
The province, which announced 438 new cases Friday, introduced new COVID-19 restrictions on Thursday that ban people from having anyone inside their home who doesn’t live there, with few exceptions, and businesses from selling non-essential items in stores.
Quebec reported 1,259 new cases of COVID-19 and 32 more deaths on Friday, a day after Premier François Legault proposed a “moral contract” with residents in order to facilitate some holiday cheer.
Legault said residents can have small gatherings — with no more than 10 friends and family members — around Christmas if they voluntarily quarantine themselves for a week before and after.
In Atlantic Canada, Nova Scotia reported five new cases on Friday. Officials announced that starting Monday, residents in the Halifax Regional Municipality will be limited to five people gathering in a close social group without physical distancing, down from 10. A high school in in Cole Harbour is closed for the day after a second case of COVID-19 at the school was announced Thursday.
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New Brunswick said it has nine new cases and that the Saint John health region will move back into the stricter, orange phase at 12 a.m. Saturday. The move comes one day after the Moncton health region returned to the orange phase.
“It is true that our numbers remain low in comparison with many jurisdictions in Canada, but that is no cause for complacency. This is a virus that spreads exponentially if unchecked,” said Dr. Jennifer Russel, the province’s chief medical officer of health.
“Now is the time to protect our Atlantic bubble and maintain the record for which we’re envied across Canada and around the world, and the best way to do that is for everyone to limit their close contacts.”
P.E.I. Health Minister James Aylward said the province can expect 26,000 to 30,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine to arrive in less than two months.
“We’ll roll those out as quickly as possible … it takes work. There’s a lot of work behind the scenes to ensure we have a good program in place,” Aylward said on Friday.
Newfoundland and Labrador reported three new cases on Friday.
In the North, Nunavut health officials reported 10 more cases of COVID-19 on Friday, bringing the number of cases in the territory to 84.
A two-week territory-wide lockdown is currently in effect in an effort to get a handle on the outbreak and avoid overwhelming Nunavut’s small, isolated health-care centres.
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Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Michael Patterson said the outbreak is “almost certainly” contained in the community of Sanikiluaq, while it might be contained in Rankin Inlet and Whale Cove. He said he was concerned about whether or not transmission was still happening in the community of Arviat.
Yukon recorded three new cases of COVID-19 on Friday, bringing its total to 29. Dr. Brendan Hanley, the territory’s chief medical officer of health, said the three cases have been linked to a previous case, with contract tracing underway.
The Northwest Territories renewed a state of emergency for Yellowknife to clear the way for an emergency warming shelter in light of capacity limitations at other facilities amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
What’s happening around the world
As of Friday afternoon, there were more than 57.3 million reported cases of COVID-19 worldwide, with more than 36.7 million of those cases listed as recovered, according to a COVID-19 tracking tool maintained by Johns Hopkins University. The global death toll stood at more than 1.3 million.
In the Americas, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo will receive an International Emmy award on Monday for his once-daily televised briefings on the coronavirus pandemic. The International Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, whose members include media and entertainment figures from over 60 countries and 500 companies, said Friday it will present the award to the Democratic governor in a live-streamed show Monday.
Academy president and CEO Bruce L. Paisner said Cuomo is being honoured for using his briefings to inform and calm the public. “People around the world tuned in to find out what was going on, and New York tough became a symbol of the determination to fight back,” he said. The pandemic killed tens of thousands of New Yorkers in the spring.
Earlier, a spokesperson for Donald Trump Jr. said the U.S. president’s son tested positive for the coronavirus. Trump Jr. learned about his diagnosis earlier in the week, has no symptoms and has been quarantining, according to the spokesperson.
Meanwhile, U.S. President-elect Joe Biden, Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi agreed in a meeting on Friday that Congress should pass a package of coronavirus economic aid in its current session, they said in a joint statement.
Mexico has registered 100,000 confirmed coronavirus deaths within days of passing one million infections. It is the fourth country to reach that death toll, after the U.S., Brazil and India.
In Europe, Amazon has bowed to government pressure to postpone its “Black Friday” discount shopping sales in France to help local shopkeepers struggling with a nationwide lockdown. The U.S. retail giant saw sales soar globally as COVID-19 restrictions sent consumers online, making it difficult for some bricks-and-mortar shops to compete.
Portugal’s parliament has voted by a comfortable margin to extend the country’s state of emergency by two weeks amid the pandemic. The state of emergency has allowed the government to impose nighttime and weekend curfews across most of the country.
Patriarch Irinej, the head of the Serbian Orthodox Church, has died after contracting the coronavirus. The patriarch was hospitalized with the virus early in November, soon after attending the funeral of the head of the Serbian Orthodox Church in Montenegro, Bishop Amfilohije, who also died from complications caused by the COVID-19 infection.
Ukraine said on Friday it hoped to receive eight million doses of a COVID-19 vaccine — enough vaccine for up to 20 per cent of its population — in the first half of next year, as it reported 14,575 new coronavirus infections, passing the previous day’s record of 13,357. The country has now recorded more than 598,000 cases, with more than 10,000 deaths.
In Asia-Pacific, South Australia’s drastic six-day coronavirus lockdown was triggered by a “lie” to contact tracers from a man who tested positive, and restrictions across the state are set to be lifted much sooner than first planned, authorities said on Friday. The shock announcement came just two days after the state government ordered people to stay at home and shut many businesses to combat what was considered a highly contagious outbreak of coronavirus.
“To say I am fuming about the actions of this individual is an absolute understatement. This selfish actions of this individual have put our whole state in a very difficult situation,” South Australia state Premier Steven Marshall said.
Sri Lankan officials announced that they will suspend all passenger trains for two days as COVID-19 cases surge in Colombo and its suburbs. The authorities have locked down many parts of the capital and its suburbs since last month when the virus surged.
India’s total number of coronavirus cases since the pandemic began has crossed nine million. While the country’s new daily cases have seen a steady decline for weeks now, authorities in the capital of New Delhi are fighting to head off nearly 7,500 new cases a day while ensuring that the flagging economy doesn’t capsize again.
South Korea’s prime minister has urged the public to avoid social gatherings and stay at home as much as possible as the country registered more than 300 new virus cases for a third consecutive day.
Hong Kong reported a spike in daily cases to 26, two days before an arrangement with Singapore to allow a limited number of passengers to fly both ways without having to go through quarantine kicks in.
In Africa, one player in the South Africa cricket squad has tested positive for the coronavirus ahead of a six-game limited-over series against England, and two others have also been isolated after being in close contact with him.