Three of the provinces hardest-hit by COVID-19 spent their second pandemic-era Good Friday either adjusting to or bracing for stricter public health measures meant to bring resurgent case counts back in check.
Three regions of Quebec, including the provincial capital, are now under a 10-day lockdown that took effect hours before the province reported the highest daily case load since late January.
On Wednesday, British Columbia imposed what they are calling a three-week long “circuit breaker” across the province hoping to “break the chain of COVID-19 transmission.”
Ontario, meanwhile, will pull what it dubs an “emergency brake” at midnight for the entire province, forcing the closure of personal services and in-person dining while imposing tighter capacity limits on both essential and non-essential businesses.
The move came in response to modelling that showed case counts could top 6,000 a day by month’s end without intervention.
While the problem in all three provinces is the same — faster-spreading variants and rising hospitalizations — the rules are all slightly different.
Quebec closed schools in the affected regions while Ontario and B.C. did not.
All three are prohibiting indoor gatherings at private residences, but Quebec is also banning outdoor gatherings at homes and cottages.
Quebec’s rules include a curfew banning people from leaving their homes between 9:30 p.m. and 5 a.m. in most regions, though the start of the curfew has been moved back to 8 p.m. in the province’s three newly locked-down cities.
Residents of Quebec City, Levis and Gatineau will also see schools close and non-essential business shut down for at least 10 days in a bid to bring soaring local case counts back under control.
Elsewhere, Quebec allows up to 250 people inside a place of worship as long as they can maintain a two metre distance from others. But the number differs for weddings and funerals, where the limit is 25 attendees.
British Columbia only allows worship outdoors, up to a maximum of 50 people, plus two more to enforce the rules. In Ontario, worship services are limited to 15 per cent capacity.
A new survey suggested Canadians navigating the complex patchwork of public health measures are likely to disregard them altogether and even ignore nearly universal calls from public health officials and politicians to skip Easter gatherings this year.
An online poll done by Leger for the Association for Canadian Studies and the University of Manitoba found more than 40 per cent of the people surveyed feel safe attending family gatherings at this point, and a quarter believe the government is overhyping the dangers of COVID-19.
Toronto mother Marcia Martins said she is scaling back her family’s usually large Easter gathering to just four households this year, noting the move feels safe since most attendees don’t work outside the home.
“These are just difficult times right now,” she said. “And I’m just glad that there’s a way that we can just keep as close to normal — or what our old normal was.”
But for some Ontario retail workers, the coming lockdown is welcome news.
“I think this will help prevent the increasing rates of the virus,” said Odessa Ordanza, a cashier at Shoppers Drug Mart in Mississauga, Ont.
The 22-year-old said “it’s still kind of scary going to work,” particularly with some people still coming into the store without masks on.
But one home-care supervisor west of Toronto has a much harsher appraisal of the government’s current approach, which allows schools to stay open and allows most retailers to operate with capacity caps rather than shutting them down entirely.
“I don’t know if it’s the right approach,” said Terri Neufeld of Mississauga, noting comparable measures have been in place locally for months. “I don’t know if we need to have a more targeted approach? What we’ve been doing (in Ontario) has really not been working.”
Many provinces opted not to report new case data on the Good Friday holiday. Those that did included Quebec, which added 1,314 new cases to its total.
It’s the third day in a row the province tallied more than 1,000 new infections, and the highest daily number since Jan. 26.
Saskatchewan reported 254 new infections on Friday, while Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw estimated there had been about 1,100 new infections over the most recent 24-hour period.
New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, meanwhile, reported nine new infections each.
Nova Scotia Premier Iain Rankin says the Easter weekend in his province “is looking very different” than in most other jurisdictions, but said people still need to be careful.
— with files from Nicole Thompson and Denise Paglinawan in Toronto.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 2, 2021.
China Evergrande debt crisis is worrying investors. Why, and what’s happening? – Global News
China Evergrande Group has missed a dollar bond interest payment deadline, moving closer to a potential default and fuelling worries about a collapse that could send shockwaves through China’s economy and beyond.
WHAT IS EVERGRANDE?
Chairman Hui Ka Yan founded Evergrande in Guangzhou in 1996. It is China’s second-largest property developer with US$110 billion in sales last year, US$355 billion in assets, and over 1,300 developments nationwide. It listed in Hong Kong in 2009.
Evergrande grew rapidly through a loan-supported land-buying spree and selling apartments quickly at low margins. It has 200,000 staff and hires 3.8 million annually for developments.
Slowing growth has seen it branch into businesses such as insurance, bottled water, football and electric vehicles (EVs).
HOW DID CONCERNS ARISE OVER DEBT?
In September last year, a leaked letter showed Evergrande pleading for government support to approve a now-dropped backdoor stock market listing. Sources told Reuters the letter was authentic; Evergrande called it fake.
In June, Evergrande said it did not pay some commercial paper on time, and in July a court froze a US$20 million bank deposit held by the firm at the bank’s request.
Stocks find some footing after Evergrande relief as Beijing residents say company’s woes won’t hurt wider economy
The firm in late August said construction at some of its developments had halted due to missed payments to contractors and suppliers. Sources have told Reuters that it also missed payments to bank and trust loans in the past few weeks.
Liabilities, including payables, total 1.97 trillion yuan (US$306.3 billion) – about two per cent of China’s gross domestic product.
HOW HAS EVERGRANDE REDUCED DEBT?
Evergrande accelerated efforts to cut debt last year after regulators introduced caps on three debt ratios, dubbed the “three red lines”. It aims to meet requirements by 2022-end.
It offered steep discounts on residential developments to spur sales and sold the bulk of its commercial properties. Since the second half of 2020, it has had a US$555 million secondary share sale, raised US$1.8 billion by listing its property management unit, and saw its EV unit sell a US$3.4 billion stake.
On Sept. 14, it said asset and equity disposal plans had failed to make material progress.
WHAT’S THE RISK?
The central bank in 2018 said companies including Evergrande might pose systemic risk to China’s financial system.
The firm’s liabilities involved as many as 128 banks and over 121 non-banking institutions, the leaked letter showed.
Evergrande sell-off putting pressure on Chinese developers: analyst
Late repayments could trigger cross-defaults as many financial institutions are exposed via direct loans and indirect holdings through different financial instruments.
In the U.S. dollar bond market, Evergrande accounts for four per cent of Chinese real estate high-yielding debt, data from Singapore bank DBS showed. A default could further trigger a sell-off across high-yield credit markets.
WHAT ABOUT OPERATIONS OUTSIDE MAINLAND CHINA?
In Hong Kong, Evergrande owns an office tower and residential development as well as two nearly completed residential developments, plus a vast undeveloped land parcel.
It has spent billions of dollars acquiring stakes in automobile technology developers, including Sweden’s NEVS, the Netherlands’ e-Traction and Britain’s Protean. It also has joint ventures with Germany’s Hofer and Sweden’s Koenigsegg.
WHAT HAVE REGULATORS SAID?
The central bank and banking regulator in August ordered Evergrande to reduce debt risk.
Regulators have approved an Evergrande proposal to renegotiate payment deadlines with banks and other creditors, media reported. Guangzhou government is also seeking major lenders’ opinions about establishing a creditor committee.
Reporting by Clare Jim; Editing by Sumeet Chatterjee, Stephen Coates, Christopher Cushing and Jane Merriman
© 2021 Reuters
Some gasoline stations in U.K. run out of fuel as pandemic supply chain crisis deepens – CBC.ca
Britain’s retail industry warned the government on Friday that unless it moves to alleviate an acute shortage of truckers in the next 10 days then significant disruption was inevitable in the run-up to Christmas.
As the world’s fifth-largest economy emerges from COVID-19 lockdowns, a spike in European natural gas prices and a post-Brexit shortage of truck drivers have left Britain grappling with soaring energy prices and a potential food supply crunch.
BP had to close some of its gas stations due to the driver shortages while queues formed at some Shell stations as pumps ran dry in some places.
“We are seeing an increased demand today for fuel at some of our stations, which may in some instances result in larger queues. We are adapting our delivery schedules to ensure sufficient supplies for our customers,” a spokesperson for Shell said.
ExxonMobil’s Esso said a small number of its 200 Tesco Alliance retail sites had also been impacted in some way.
In a rush to fill up, drivers also queued at some gas stations in London and the southern English county of Kent. Diesel ran out at one station visited by Reuters.
For months supermarkets, processors and farmers have warned that a shortage of heavy goods vehicle (HGV) drivers was straining supply chains to breaking point — making it harder to get goods on to shelves.
“Unless new drivers are found in the next 10 days, it is inevitable that we will see significant disruption in the run-up to Christmas,” said Andrew Opie, director of food & sustainability at the British Retail Consortium, the retail industry’s lobby group.
“HGV drivers are the glue which hold our supply chains together,” Opie said. “Without them, we are unable to move goods from farms to warehouses to shops.”
The next 10 days are crucial because retailers ramp up supplies in October to ensure there are enough goods for the peak Christmas season.
Hauliers and logistics companies cautioned that there were no quick fixes and that any change to testing or visas would likely be too late to alleviate the pre-Christmas shortages as retailers stockpile months ahead.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government has insisted that there will be no return to the 1970s when Britain was cast by allies as the “sick man of Europe” with three-day weeks, energy shortages and rampant inflation.
As ministers urged the public not to panic buy, some of Britain’s biggest supermarkets have warned that the shortage of truck drivers could lead to just that ahead of Christmas.
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro said that Johnson, whom he met in New York, had asked him for an “emergency” agreement to supply a food product that is lacking in Britain, though the British embassy disputed Bolsonaro’s account.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said there was a global shortage of truckers after COVID halted lorry driver testing so Britain was doubling the number of tests. Asked if the government would ease visa rules, he said the government would look at all options.
“We’ll do whatever it takes,” Shapps told Sky News. “We’ll move heaven and earth to do whatever we can to make sure that shortages are alleviated with HGV drivers.
“We should see it smooth out fairly quickly,” he said.
British ministers are due to meet later on Friday in an attempt to hash out a fix.
The trucking industry body, the Road Haulage Association (RHA), has called on the government to allow short-term visas for international drivers to enter Britain and fill the gap, while British drivers are being trained for the future.
“It’s an enormous challenge,” Rod McKenzie, head of policy at the RHA, told Reuters. In the short-term, he said, international drivers could help, even if it may be too late to help Christmas, and in the longer term the industry needed better pay and conditions to attract workers.
“It’s a tough job. We the British do not help truckers in the way that Europeans and Americans do by giving them decent facilities,” he said.
The British haulage industry says it needs around 100,000 more drivers after 25,000 returned to Europe before Brexit and the pandemic halted the qualification process for new workers.
Shapps, who said the driver shortage was not due to Brexit, said COVID-19 exacerbated the problem given that Britain was unable to test 40,000 drivers during lockdowns.
How to unwind after a long day at the office
Whether you are returning to the office after working from home or starting a new job. Being among other hardworking people and maybe even having a boss breathing down your neck can be nerve-wracking. You might even experience that you’re more tired than usual when you climb into bed at the end of the day.
That’s why it is important to find the right way for you to unwind and clear your mind after a long day of hard work.
A quick run is great for clearing the mind. A trip to the gym can help you relieve some aggressions you might have developed throughout the day. Kicking a ball around with your friends can help you calm down. The possibilities are endless, but the results can be great.
Exercise is wonderful for your mind as well as your body. If you even bring along a couple of friends, you are sure to have a great time and forget what was bothering you to begin with.
Forget the world with online gaming
Sometimes, what you need is a distraction. A great book can help you forget the world but maybe you are too wound up to focus. In that case, a great alternative is trying an online casino in Canada. You do not even need to stay focused to have fun and forget your troubles.
The best part is that you can enjoy online casinos anywhere. On the couch in front of the TV, on the train ride home, or in bed before you go to sleep. Playing on your phone is convenient and easy. Before you realize it, you completely forgot about your stressful day.
Cook a nutritious meal
You might not feel like cooking if you are agitated after a long day. But something about creating beautiful, delicious food can be almost therapeutic. Eating meals that you love can help shift your mood without you even realizing it. At the same time, you might be able to get rid of some irritations by taking your frustrations out on the vegetables that need to be chopped. Just remember to protect your fingers.
Spend time with a loved one
Being able to vent about your day or simply get a hug can be all you need. If you live with your significant other, try to let them be there for you when you need some extra love and understanding. If you live alone, try to make time to get a cup of coffee with a friend or family member. Do not underestimate the effects of human contact. Soon, you will feel recharged and ready to take on a new day.
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