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Alberta handing out masks at drive-thrus – Canada News – Castanet.net

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Alberta is planning to distribute 20 million non-medical masks for free at hundreds of drive-thru fast-food restaurants.

Health Minister Tyler Shandro says it’s one more way to keep Albertans safe as the economy reopens following shutdowns forced by COVID-19.

“As the province relaunches and we all adapt to our new normal, we all may sometimes find ourselves where physical distancing may not be possible,” Shandro told a news conference Friday.

“For example, riding transit in the province or shopping … where it may be difficult to maintain two metres between people at all times.

“Mask use is not mandatory, but we would like Albertans to have the option of wearing a mask if they choose.”

Shandro said that starting in early June, people will be able to use drive-thru lanes at McDonald’s, A&W and Tim Hortons to pick up single use, three-layer, non-medical masks designed to filter germs and pollution particles.

The masks come in packages of four, and one package will be handed out per person.

No food purchase is necessary to obtain them, said Shandro, and no money is going to the restaurant chains for pick-up or distribution.

At just below $1 per mask, the province is spending just under $2 million on the project. About $350,000 will be spent on getting masks to remote areas that don’t have those restaurants.

But Shandro said 95 per cent of Albertans live within 10 kilometres of a drive-thru. The participating businesses have about 600 drive-thrus in the province.

He said the masks can be picked up only in drive-thru lanes, not inside the restaurant, to maintain physical distancing.

He acknowledged that four masks per person is not enough in the long term, but will help some people get through the crunch of the crisis and that Albertans are encouraged to source their own masks in the future.

Asked how he hopes to prevent hoarding, Shandro said, “We’re not asking for folks to bring in their health-care card and get it punched to show they’ve already picked up.

“This is on the honour system.”

He said it’s acceptable for people to pick up masks on behalf of those who can’t do so in person.

Tanya Doucette, who operates eight Tim Hortons franchises in central Alberta, said customers were understanding when her staff closed in-store service and moved to drive-thru and delivery service only.

She expects the same will happen as they continue reopening in-store service to half capacity and begin distributing masks.

“We won’t be asking our team members to police the program. We’ll just ask them to follow the guidelines as they are set out by the province,” said Doucette in an interview.

“I think we can count on Albertans to utilize the program in the spirit it is meant.”

Alberta has completed the first phase of its economic relaunch. Retail shops, restaurants, day cares, barber shops, hair salons, farmers markets and places of worship have reopened with some conditions.

Outdoor gatherings are currently limited to 50 people, and indoor gatherings to 15.

The next phase is scheduled to begin June 19 with the reopening of stage and movie theatres, spas and services like manicures, pedicures and massages.

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Health Unit Announces 35 New Cases of COVID-19 – AM800 (iHeartRadio)

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The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit has announced 35 new cases of COVID-19.

The newest cases announced Saturday includes 20 in the agri-farm sector.

Among the other cases, two involve healthcare workers, 12 are community based while one remains under investigation.

There are now 1,656 confirmed cases in the area with 68 deaths while 994 cases have been resolved.

The health unit also reports outbreaks at two long-term care homes.

There is also an outbreak at four workplaces, two in Kingsville and two in Leamington, which means there is two or more positive cases involving the workforce.

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Oil pares weekly gain amid virus fears, signs of tighter supply – BNNBloomberg.ca

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Oil slipped on Friday, paring a weekly gain, as concern of demand erosion from a coronavirus resurgence countered strong U.S. economic data.

Futures fell to about US$40 a barrel in New York as the virus continues to spread unabated across large parts of the U.S., clouding the outlook for energy demand. Crude prices gained 4.2 per cent for the week as data showed a rebound in the U.S. jobs market accelerated in early June and American crude stockpiles shrank by the most this year. A survey showed OPEC oil production dropped last month to the lowest since 1991.

The worsening pandemic may not have been fully captured in the jobs data, which provided a snapshot of hiring in the middle of the month before many states reversed course on their re-openings.

“We have had a sharp recovery in demand for energy products that has occurred from March to end of May,” Daniel Ghali, a TD Securities commodity strategist, said by phone. “Since then the pace of recovery has slowed. There is concern that this stall may be a signal of weakness in demand that’s tied to the rise in coronavirus cases in the U.S.”

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Adding to the murky demand outlook, Chinese oil inventories swelled to a record this week, satellite data show, after the world’s biggest oil importer went on a buying spree last quarter as the economy rebounded. The stockpiles may indicate a slowdown in buying by the East Asian country.

That outlook was balanced by the OPEC+ alliance’s commitment to reducing output, with Russia showing near total compliance with its targets. The group hasn’t made any decision yet on whether to extend its full cutback — which stands at 9.6 million barrels a day — into August, Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak said. Ministers from the coalition next meet on July 15.

West Texas Intermediate for August delivery fell 51 cents US to US$40.14 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange as of 11:18 a.m. local time, after closing up 2.1 per cent on Thursday. Brent for September settlement declined 49 cents US to US$42.65 on the ICE Futures Europe exchange, paring its weekly gain to four per cent. Trading volumes were low as the U.S. took a day off ahead of the July 4 holiday.

The global benchmark crude’s three-month timespread remained in contango — where prompt contracts are cheaper than later-dated ones — but the spread has narrowed in recent days, indicating that concerns about oversupply have eased slightly.

The decline in U.S. oil production continued as working rigs fell for a 16th week to the least since 2009, according to Baker Hughes data released Thursday. Exxon Mobil Corp., meanwhile, reported an unprecedented second straight quarterly loss as almost every facet of the energy giant’s business slumped.

Other oil-market news

-India’s oil market is showing an uneven recovery two months after easing virus-control measures. Provisional fuel sales from the three biggest retailers were at 88 per cent of 2019 levels in June.

-The oil market is “currently perhaps too optimistic” as COVID-19 cases haven’t peaked yet and there’s still a large inventory overhang, FGE said in a note. Prices could fall to US$35 a barrel in the near-term before recovering in the fourth quarter.

-Angola is under intense pressure from other OPEC+ members to speed up its oil output cuts, and the response from the African nation has so far failed to appease the group.

-Several crude cargoes floating near China have been re-offered or sold to other buyers in Asia as long lines of oil-laden tankers continue to wait for their turn to discharge in Asia’s top importing nation, said traders who asked not to be identified.

–With assistance from James Thornhill.

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The Great Facebook Boycott: Will it make any difference? – Aljazeera.com

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On The Listening Post this week: Big brands are part of an advertising boycott against Facebook over racist content and hate speech. Plus, lockdown TV puts bookshelves in the spotlight.

The Great Facebook Boycott: Will it make any difference?

The two biggest news stories of 2020 – the coronavirus pandemic and the racial inequality protests – have triggered what the United Nations calls a “tsunami” of hate speech – a surge in xenophobia online. The social media platforms involved now find themselves the focus of an advertising boycott – a campaign called “Stop Hate for Profit” – that is designed to get them to clean up their act, by hitting them where it hurts. The primary target has been Facebook. For years, Mark Zuckerberg and company have resisted demands to take a more active approach – a harder line – to moderating hateful content. Ninety-nine percent of Facebook’s revenue – $70bn last year – reportedly comes from advertising. However, given Facebook’s size, the boycott is unlikely to seriously damage its bottom line, at least in the short term.

Contributors:

Shoshana Wodinsky – enterprise reporter, Gizmodo

Nadine Strossen – professor, New York Law School and former president, ACLU

Jessica Gonzalez – Stop Hate for Profit campaign and co-CEO, Free Press

Sarah Roberts – Center for Critical Inquiry, UCLA and author, Behind the Screen

On our radar

Richard Gizbert speaks to producer Johanna Hoes about China’s new national security law for Hong Kong and its implications for the media; plus, the Iranian journalist sentenced to death simply for doing his job.

Framing the self: The rise of the bookshelf aesthetic

With the pandemic forcing so many of us to work from home, all kinds of talking heads – news anchors, interviewees, pundits and politicians – have had to redefine their “natural environments”. So you have been seeing a lot of bookshelves. They are the perfect solution. They provide a little visual texture – they do not distract – and they create the impression, true or not, that the talking head has actually read the books, maybe even written some of them. Creating a backdrop is an exercise in self-branding – it sends a message and speaks to your alleged credibility before you say a word. And this book-flaunting has led to a new genre of media critique: bookshelf analysis. The Listening Post‘s Flo Phillips reports on judging a person by their bookish backdrop.

Contributors:

Tamar Garb – professor of art history, UCL

Bernie Hogan – senior research fellow, Oxford Internet Institute

Hussein Kesvani – culture and technology journalist

Alex Christofi – editorial director, Transworld Books

Source: Al Jazeera

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