Some Americans continue to defy the rules by making side trips when driving through Canada to or from Alaska, despite tough measures introduced in July to put a stop to it.
In August, B.C. RCMP ticketed half-a-dozen Americans in two separate incidents for going off-route during their treks. The tickets totalled $4,500 in fines and, in one case, RCMP escorted a family of five out of Canada.
“There are individuals who are continuing not to follow the rules,” said B.C. RCMP spokesperson Janelle Shoihet. “Those rules are put in place in order to protect everybody.”
In spite of the tickets issued, the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) said that since it introduced its new measures, the vast majority of Americans driving to or from Alaska have complied with the regulations.
To help stop the spread of COVID-19, the Canada-U.S. land border closed to non-essential travel in late March. However, Americans can still drive through Canada to Alaska, or vice versa, for non-discretionary reasons, such as for work or school, or to return home.
As a precautionary measure, drivers must take the most direct route possible and not make unnecessary stops.
Once summer hit, it became clear that some Americans were ignoring those rules after several were caught taking long hikes in Banff National Park.
In an attempt to curb the problem, CBSA introduced strict new measures on July 31. Now, when Americans doing the Alaska-route enter Canada, they receive a written list of rules and the date on which they must check in with a CBSA officer and exit the country.
The list of rules — which drivers must hang from their rearview mirror — include instructions to wear a face mask, avoid contact with others and order meals via drive-thrus.
According to B.C. RCMP, each of those rules was broken on Aug. 31 when a group of three Americans stopped in Fort St. John, B.C. during their drive from Washington state to Alaska.
The trio allegedly entered a restaurant while not wearing masks, dined in, and closely interacted with two Canadian customers both inside and outside the restaurant, said Shoihet with B.C. RCMP.
“There were a number of violations.”
She said RCMP were tipped off by a restaurant employee “who was concerned about the well being of the patrons and the employees.”
RCMP fined the three Americans $1,000 each under the federal Quarantine Act.
Defying a deadline
Although American drivers now get a deadline for when they must exit Canada, that didn’t stop one American family from overstaying their welcome.
According to Shoihet, CBSA contacted B.C. RCMP on Aug. 29 when a family of five driving from Alaska to Washington State failed to check in at the B.C. border by their exit date.
RCMP circulated the license plate number of the family’s vehicle to law authorities.
“A keen eye of a police officer in Vancouver was able to spot that license plate and then alerted us,” said Shoihet.
The three adult family members were fined $500 each under the Quarantine Act, and RCMP escorted the family to the B.C.-Washington border, she said.
“They were given an appropriate time in order to get from border to border and they failed to comply.”
CBC News uncovered a third incident where an American woman driving from Alaska to Montana was fined $1,200 for stopping at Banff National Park on Aug. 6. According to Alberta RCMP, the woman entered Canada about two weeks prior — before CBSA introduced its new measures.
RCMP said the drive to Montana should have only taken a few days and not included a pit-stop in the park.
Get rid of the Alaska-exemption?
The Alaska exemption has sparked concern from some Canadians who fear a number of Americans may be using it as a loophole to vacation here.
“You shouldn’t be stopping along the way to enjoy the sights and sounds of British Columbia,” B.C. Premier John Horgan warned Americans during a news conference in July.
Jim Abram, a municipal politician on Quadra Island, off the B.C. coast, was never a fan of the Alaska exemption. He said Americans continuing to break the rules — despite new CBSA measures — only strengthens his resolve that it should be axed.
“Just cancel it,” said Abram, who is the elected regional director for Discovery Islands-Mainland Inlets in B.C.
“The situation in the States is absolutely abominable, and we have worked so hard in B.C. to try and keep things manageable.”
Abram said Alaskan-bound Americans have other options, such as flying or taking the Alaska State Ferry, which sails from Bellingham, Wash., and carries vehicles.
Americans are allowed to drive through Canada to or from Alaska for non-discretionary purposes due to their “limited options” for travel, said CBSA spokesperson Ashely Lemire, in an email to CBC News.
Since the agency introduced tougher measures on July 31, more than 99 per cent of Americans making the trek have complied with the requirement to leave Canada on their mandated exit date, she said.
When asked if the CBSA is at all reconsidering the Alaska-exemption, Lemire replied that the agency regularly reviews its policies and makes necessary adjustments.
“The CBSA will always take the appropriate measures to ensure the health and safety of those residing in Canada,” she said.
Source: – CBC.ca
Trudeau announces $214M for Canadian coronavirus vaccine research – Global News
The federal government says it’s spending $214 million to support “made in Canada” coronavirus vaccine research.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Friday that $173 million would go to Quebec-based Medicago, while Vancouver’s Precision NanoSystems would receive $18.2 million for development and testing.
“This is about securing potential vaccines for Canadians while supporting good jobs in research,” he told reporters at a press conference in Ottawa.
The deal with Medicago includes up to 76 million doses of its vaccine candidate, as well as funds to set up a production facility in Quebec City.
A further $23 million will go toward the National Research Council of Canada Industrial Research Assistance Program.
To date, the federal government has spent more than $1 billion to secure doses of a vaccine against the coronavirus. Deals have been struck with half a dozen pharmaceutical giants, and Canada is also part of an international vaccine alliance through COVAX.
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“Canada has an excellent portfolio of vaccine potential, but we also know, nobody’s got that vaccine yet,” Trudeau said.
Trudeau said the “reasonable expectation” is that vaccines could arrive sometime in the new year, but initially there will be smaller amounts available and the shots would be going to priority groups first.
“I think of our most vulnerable or our frontline workers, and we have experts busy evaluating exactly how and where and in which way to distribute these vaccines,” he said, adding that Ottawa would be working with the provinces and territories on the distribution.
He stressed that no vaccine would be available until Health Canada officials are certain the immunization is safe.
Trudeau’s announcement came after Canada posted a record increase in new COVID-19 cases on Thursday, with nearly 2,800 people newly diagnosed with the illness.
“We have to get these numbers down,” Trudeau said. “This is serious and everybody must do their part.”
Coronavirus: Trudeau says Canada has surpassed 200,000 COVID-19 cases
In response to a Radio-Canada report that found Canada could be months behind countries such as the United States on receiving COVID-19 vaccines, Public Services and Procurement Minister Anita Anand said that the government was “strategically positioning” Canadians to have access.
“With agreements in place for seven leading vaccine candidates, for one of the most diverse COVID-19 vaccine candidate portfolios in the world, Canada is very well placed,” read a statement from Anand.
Anand’s statement also said that anticipated delivery dates start as early as the first quarter of 2021, but are dependent on the results of the clinical trials, as well as on Health Canada approval.
“However, let me be clear, we are being very aggressive in our negotiations regarding delivery dates, with the ultimate priority of making sure that Canadians have access to safe, proven and effective COVID-19 vaccines as soon as they are ready.”
© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
Ontario reports record 978 new COVID-19 cases
Ontario reported 978 new COVID-19 cases on Saturday, the most on a single day since the outbreak began in late January.
Saturday’s count surpasses the previous high of 939, which was reported on Oct. 9.
Health Minister Christine Elliott said the majority of the new cases are concentrated in Toronto, which once again led the way with 348. Another 170 cases were reported in Peel Region, followed by 141 in York Region and 89 in Ottawa.
A handful of other areas saw double-digit increases as well:
- Durham Region: 51.
- Eastern Ontario: 43.
- Simcoe Muskoka: 23.
- Halton Region: 21.
- Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph: 15.
- Waterloo Region: 14.
- Hamilton: 10.
- Niagara Region: 10.
The number of patients hospitalized in Ontario due to COVID-19 now sits at 294, an increase of 18 since Friday.
There are 82 people in intensive care units, an increase of four, and 53 people are on ventilators, an increase of six.
The province’s seven-day average of new daily cases has also broken a new record. As of Saturday, it sits at 803 — higher than any other day so far this year.
Ontario’s cumulative total of cases now sits at 69,331. Some 625 cases were marked as resolved in Saturday’s update.
Six more people have died of COVID-19 in Ontario. The provincial death toll now stands at 3,086.
Nearly 44,200 tests completed
Meanwhile, Ontario’s network of community, commercial and hospital labs processed 44,151 novel coronavirus test samples since its last daily report.
While that figure marks the highest number of daily tests completed so far this week, it still falls short of Ontario’s goal of processing 50,000 tests per day by mid-October. The province also set a goal of processing 68,000 tests by mid-November.
Dr. Sumon Chakrabarti, an infectious diseases specialist at Trillium Health Partners in Mississauga, Ont., attributes that shortfall to Ontario’s tightened testing criteria and move to appointment-only testing.
Covid19 Updates – Infectious Diseases Specialist Dr. Sumon Chakrabarti <a href=”https://twitter.com/TorontoIDDoc?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@TorontoIDDoc</a> talks to us about:<br><br>🇨🇦Rising cases in Ontario, but lowering testing rates<br>💉The concerns of intentional infection for vaccine research<br>🎃How to enjoy Halloween safely…and what he tells his kids <a href=”https://t.co/ly56L5KWbk”>pic.twitter.com/ly56L5KWbk</a>
“This has caused a bit of problems because we’re getting people to make appointments, but there are some double bookings happening, people not showing up,” he told CBC News Network on Saturday.
“This has put a little bit of a wrench in plans.”
But Chakrabarti said despite those issues, he hopes testing will ramp up in the coming weeks.
“It’s important for us to have the right testing at the right time and not just the big numbers. Otherwise you start to get a picture that does not actually represent what’s happening on the ground,” he said.
Halton mayors ask to stay in Stage 3
Meanwhile, two mayors and MPPs from Halton Region wrote a letter to Dr. David Williams, Ontario’s chief medical officer of health, on Friday, pleading with him to refrain from imposing Stage 2 restrictions on the area.
“Last week when York Region faced new restrictions, Halton Region came together. We acted quickly to implement several recommendations made by our Medical Officer of Health,” the letter reads.
“These measures are working.”
The letter — signed by MPPs Parm Gill and Jane McKenna, as well as Halton Regional Chair Gary Carr, Burlington Mayor Marianne Meed Ward and Milton Mayor Gordon Krantz — also noted that the region’s positivity rate has not moved past public health’s “high alert” range of 2.5 per cent.
“In these unprecedented times, individuals and businesses need to have some level of predictability and stability. This is why we are also calling on you to clearly define the criteria used to determine when further restrictions or rollbacks are required, as well as the criteria that must be met for lifting any restrictions or rollbacks,” the letter reads.
The plea comes after Premier Doug Ford hinted on Friday that Halton could soon join the list of regions with stricter COVID-19 measures.
Ford said provincial officials will examine the situation there over the weekend to decide whether the area needs to be moved back into a modified Stage 2.
The restrictions mean restaurants can only offer outdoor service, and gyms and theatres must close.
“It’s concerning right now, I’ve seen the numbers go up again,” Ford said on Friday.
Asked if a similar move would be considered for Durham Region, where new cases are also increasing, Ford said the province will look at every area that’s experiencing “a little escalation” and provide clarity on Monday.
Toronto, Peel Region and Ottawa moved to a modified Stage 2 — which includes the closure of gyms, movie theatres and casinos, and a ban on indoor dining in restaurants or bars — on Oct. 10, while York Region did so this week.
The tighter rules are set to be reviewed after 28 days, and Ford said he would make decisions on any steps beyond that based on the advice of the provincial health team.
Horwath calls for expansion of contact tracing
In a statement on Saturday, NDP Leader Andrea Horwath blamed Ontario’s high case count on Ford’s “refusal to invest in stopping the growth of the second wave.”
Horwath said the province is sitting on more than $9 billion in pandemic support funding, more than $7 billion of which she said came from the federal government.
“Mr. Ford doesn’t want to spend the money. And cases are skyrocketing as a result,” she said in the statement
Horwath is calling for a “massive” expansion of testing and contact tracing in “every community” across the province.
She also wants to see enhanced protections in the long-term care sector, as well as a 15-student class cap in schools.
“People can’t afford to have Mr. Ford delay another day,” Horwath said.
10 patients, 4 staff infected at CAMH
The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) said on Saturday that 10 patients and four staff members so far have tested positive for COVID-19 due to an outbreak at its Queen Street site.
The news of the most recent confirmed cases comes after the hospital first reported an outbreak last weekend.
“We continue to remain vigilant about policies and procedures to keep staff and patients safe and we are working with our partners at Toronto Public Health on reporting, surveillance, and infection control,” CAMH wrote in a statement on Saturday.
CAMH is not the only hospital that has reported outbreaks in Toronto over the last week. Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre reported an outbreak in the facility’s surgical unit on Friday and St. Joseph’s Health Centre, along with Toronto Western Hospital, reported outbreaks last weekend.
Thermal blankets draw patio-goers
Some restaurants are looking for creative ways to keep dining available outside as COVID-19 hot spots in Ontario have reverted back to a modified stage two.
With indoor dining closed, restaurants in the Danforth neighbourhood in Toronto are part of a new initiative with the Broadview-Danforth BIA to entice customers to visit outdoor patios, despite chillier weather.
Beginning on Saturday, those who dine out on outdoor patios in the neighbourhood will receive a free thermal blanket and a $5 gift card to use at any BIA business in the area.
Some residents participated in the initiative on Saturday, wrapping themselves in the blankets to stay warm during the crisp, late October weather.
Source: – CBC.ca
The latest news on COVID-19 developments in Canada – Yorkton This Week
The latest news on COVID-19 developments in Canada (all times Eastern):
Yukon says it has three new cases of COVID-19 with all the infections in Watson Lake.
Chief medical health officer Dr. Brendan Hanley says this is the fourth incidence of infection in a rural community.
The cases bring the territory’s total number of infections to 20 people.
B.C. is reporting 223 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday, tipping the number of active infections over 2,000.
Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry says in a statement contact tracing teams throughout B.C. are working around the clock.
But she says their success depends on everyone doing their part and taking a step back from social interactions.
There have been two new community outbreaks, one at a hot tub and spa manufacturing company and one at a food processing business in Langley.
Seventy-five people are in hospital, including 24 in intensive care, but no one else has died from the illness since the province’s last update.
Quebec’s deputy premier has a dire warning for those living in the provincial capital and the neighbouring Chaudiere-Appalaches region amid a rising number of cases of COVID-19.
Genevieve Guilbault says people haven’t been following public health guidelines, resulting in a spike of cases in the two regions that could threaten the ability to provide medical treatment if it’s not brought under control.
Both regions were largely spared during the first wave, but Guilbault says in Chaudiere-Appalaches, there have been four times more cases and five times more deaths this time.
The Quebec City region holds the dubious distinction of having the highest number of active cases per 100,000 population in the province.
Guilbault was joined by the mayors of Levis and Quebec City, urging the population to limit their contacts and follow public health guidelines.
A man in his 80s is the latest death linked to the deadliest COVID-19 outbreak in a Manitoba care home.
There has been a total of 15 deaths at the Parkview Place care home in Winnipeg.
There were 163 new infections Friday, the vast majority in the capital city.
Winnipeg went weeks without any new infections over the summer, but case numbers have risen rapidly in the last two months.
A total of 33 cases have now also been connected to a poultry plant in Blumenort, southeast of Winnipeg, and the company says one employee has died.
Quebec-based company Exceldor, which owns the plant, says an investigation is ongoing to see whether the death of the 42-year-old man is related to his COVID-19 infection.
Newfoundland and Labrador is asking passengers who travelled on Air Canada Flight 7484 from Toronto to Deer Lake on Oct. 12 to call 811 to arrange for a test.
Health officials say the request for testing is being made out of an abundance of caution.
The request stems from a new case of COVID-19 announced Thursday affecting a man between 20 and 39 years old who returned to the province from work in Alberta.
On Thursday, officials said the man was self-isolating and contact tracing was still underway.
New Brunswick is reporting two new cases of COVID-19.
Both are in the Campbellton region, which is one of two areas in the province that were hit by significant outbreaks of novel coronavirus two weeks ago.
Health officials say the two new cases involve a person 40 to 49 years old and a person between 70 and 79 — both are self-isolating.
There are currently 75 active cases in a province that has confirmed 324 overall cases, while 245 people have recovered and four people have died.
Canada saw a record high number of COVID-19 cases diagnosed yesterday, with 2,788 new illnesses recorded.
In an Ottawa news conference, Canada’s chief public health officer is calling, again, for Canadians to reduce their contacts with other people, wear masks and follow hygiene protocols.
Dr. Theresa Tam says the longer we wait to curb the spread of COVID-19, the harder it will be to contain.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says Canada is spending $214 million to produce potential COVID-19 vaccines in Canada.
That includes a deal with Quebec’s Medicago and one with British Columbia’s Precision NanoSystems, both of which are working on potential vaccines.
Trudeau says the Medicago agreement includes the rights to buy up to 76 million doses of its vaccine, if it proves safe and effective, and funding for a factory in Quebec City to produce them.
The prime minister also says Canada has received “hundreds of thousands” of test kits from medical company Abbott to be distributed to the provinces and territories.
Two more vaccine makers have asked Health Canada to study their product before it has completed clinical trials.
Both Moderna and Pfizer applied to Health Canada on Oct. 12 to have their vaccine candidates studied by the regulator.
Health Canada is trying to review the vaccines at the same time they are undergoing final clinical tests so they can be approved for use here as quickly as possible.
AstraZeneca applied for its vaccine candidate on Oct. 1.
All three vaccine candidates are among the ones Canada will get access to if they are deemed safe and effective.
Quebec is reporting 905 new cases of COVID-19 and 12 more deaths attributed to the novel coronavirus.
Authorities said today four COVID-related deaths occurred in the past 24 hours.
Hospitalizations dropped by 13 compared with the prior day, for a total of 540.
The province has reported a total of 98,226 COVID-19 infections and 6,106 deaths linked to the virus.
Ontario is reporting 826 new cases of COVID-19 today, and nine new deaths due to the virus.
Health Minister Christine Elliott says 292 cases are in Toronto, 186 in Peel Region, 87 in Ottawa, and 72 in York Region.
The province says it has conducted 40,019 tests since the last daily report, with another 35,436 being processed.
In total, 276 people are hospitalized in Ontario due to COVID-19, including 78 in intensive care.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 23, 2020.
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