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Capacity 'stretched' as Nunavut deals with rising COVID-19 cases: top doctor – Toronto Star

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IQALUIT, Nunavut – Nunavut’s chief public health officer says capacity to deal with an outbreak of COVID-19 is “stretched,” which is why the government has shut down the territory for two weeks to try to get cases of COVID-19 under control.

The territory reported its first case Nov. 6 and the total has jumped to 70 in less than two weeks.

Dr. Michael Patterson says the Health Department has “some reserve capacity”– but not much.

“Knowing that we’re close to our limit in terms of capacity right now, that’s the rationale for bringing these orders in place,” Patterson said at a news conference Wednesday.

Lorne Kusugak, Nunavut’s health minister, said the federal government has assured him it will step in with “as much help as they can” if needed.

“We don’t want to have to go there, but if there was a need … for the military to come and give us support, that they would be able to go to that extent,” Kusugak said.

Arviat, a community of about 2,800 people, has 54 of Nunavut’s active cases, eight are in Whale Cove and six are in Rankin Inlet — all along the northwestern coast of Hudson Bay. Two other infections are in Sanikiluaq, the southernmost community in Nunavut.

Patterson said all the infected individuals are isolating at home and doing well.

He said it’s “too soon to tell” if earlier public health orders in Arviat have stopped community transmission, nor can he point to any event in particular that contributed to the spread.

The situation is not as bad elsewhere, he added.

“In other communities, things are more stable. We’re at, or certainly closer to, having it stabilized and contained.”

Patterson said it’s still not known how exactly the novel coronavirus made it to Nunavut, which had been free of COVID-19 for the first eight months of the pandemic. An investigation continues.

Premier Joe Savikataaq urged Nunavummiut to follow public health orders that came into effect Wednesday.

“Don’t visit outside your household. Don’t gather or socialize. Don’t travel unless absolutely necessary,” Savikataaq said.

“This is it, folks. It’s time to take a stand and fight against COVID-19. We need you all to make sacrifices now to protect our communities.”

All schools and non-essential businesses are closed, as are libraries, fitness centres, government offices and personal services.

Health centres are closed except for emergencies and the Qikiqtani General Hospital in Iqaluit is not accepting walk-ins.

Gatherings are restricted to five people and are not allowed in homes.

Masks are mandatory in communities with active cases of COVID-19 and are “strongly recommended” in all other places.

Nunavut went into a similar shutdown in March, but restrictions were lifted over the summer because the territory hadn’t had any cases.

There is some in-territory testing in Rankin Inlet and Iqaluit. Patterson said the machine in Rankin Inlet can handle four tests an hour, while the one in Iqaluit can do eight.

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This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 18, 2020.

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This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship

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Confusion remains in B.C. on who can gather in restaurants under COVID-19 restrictions – Global News

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The B.C. Restaurant and Food Association says a new set of COVID-19 restrictions imposed by the provincial government has customers struggling to understand who they are allowed to dine with.

The association’s president Ian Tostenson says restaurants are trying to tell customers to use common sense and follow advice from provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, but he says that advice has been unclear.

“There is a lot of confusion as to who can dine out as a result of the last couple of weeks with Dr. Henry,” Tostenson said Monday.

“The spirit of what Dr. Henry is saying is eat with people you trust, eat with people in your bubble. But if you try to define that too much it gets too hard.”

Read more:
‘Kicked when we’re down’: New COVID-19 restrictions hit already struggling B.C. restaurants

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The provincial orders issued last week require diners to only eat with someone from their own household. If someone is single, they can eat with one or two other people who make up their pandemic bubble.

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For example, three friends who are also married cannot all eat together at a restaurant. Another common mistake is parents cannot take their adult child and spouse for a meal at a restaurant if they live in separate households.

“For these two weeks we’re saying stick with your household bubble, and for some people that may mean one or two people who they have close contact with their pandemic bubble,” Henry said Monday.

The biggest challenge to uphold the order is enforcement.

Restaurants are being told not to ask diners whether they are following the rules. Instead, Henry is asking diners to know the rules themselves.


Click to play video 'Christmas events put ‘on hold’ by pandemic'



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Christmas events put ‘on hold’ by pandemic


Christmas events put ‘on hold’ by pandemic

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“It is not the restaurant’s responsibility to ask people who they live with, or where they are from,” Tostenson said.

“The more that we increase confusion and uncertainty in the marketplace the harder it is.”

There is growing concern from the province that British Columbians are trying to exploit loopholes in the order. The priority for the government is to crack down of social gatherings if that is in someone’s home or in a restaurant.

Read more:
Your questions about B.C.’s new COVID-19 measures answered

One thing enforcement can do is crack down on organized events in a restaurant like live music.

“There is a tendency to … see these like a speed limit and it says 80 (km/h), and maybe I can go 86. That’s not what these are,” Health Minister Adrian Dix said Monday.

“These are provincial health orders to help us stop the spread of a virus that is harming our loved ones in long-term care and causing great disruption in our society, and these are the things we’re doing together to stop that.”

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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'We are on the verge of significant bankruptcies': Restaurants and pubs struggle under B.C.'s new restrictions – CTV News Vancouver

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VANCOUVER —
New measures introduced last Thursday by Dr. Bonnie Henry meant to curb the spread of COVID-19 by limiting social interactions appear to be having the desired effect, to the detriment of businesses.

At a news conference on Nov. 19, Henry ordered B.C. residents to limit social gatherings to their immediate household, or a small pandemic bubble for those living alone.

“This applies in our homes, vacation rentals and in the community and in public venues, including those with less than 50 people in controlled settings,” Henry said.

She made no specific mention of restaurants or pubs, and Ian Tostenson with the BC Restaurant and Foodservices Association said there has been confusion about who can dine out.

“We haven’t seen the latest health order, it hasn’t been written from last week, so as far as we’re concerned, we’re telling people go to a restaurant but go to a restaurant in the spirit of hanging with people you trust in a small bubble,” Tostenson said.

Tostenson estimates over the last 10 days, restaurants have lost about 30-40 per cent of their pandemic sales as those who were confused by the orders chose to stay home.

Henry’s order was an expansion of a previous regional order that only applied in B.C.’s Lower Mainland. During prior news conferences, Henry made clear that while dining out was encouraged, people should only do it with their households.

On Monday, Henry clarified again that she wants British Columbians to spend the next two weeks only socializing in person with others from their household, or a bubble of one or two designated people for those who live alone. That applies to going to restaurants.

The restrictions are also hitting bars and pubs hard. Jeff Guignard with the Alliance of Beverage Licensees estimated business dropped by 50 per cent of pandemic levels.

“So you have people who are down to 25 per cent of where they were in 2019 and that’s just not sustainable. We’re on the verge of significant bankruptcies right now,” he said.

Restrictions are scheduled tin place until Dec. 7.

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Here are all the events that are affected by the new COVID-19 orders in B.C. – BC News – Castanet.net

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Last week, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced a host of new restrictions in the wake of surging cases of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) in the province. 

B.C.’s top doctor stated that all British Columbians are ordered to stop any non-essential travel outside of their respective health regions until Dec. 7. Several other indoor activities will be put on hold, as well as all community-based gatherings. 

Today, Henry clarified what events and gatherings must be postponed under the new order during the daily COVID-19 news briefing. She underscored that all events are postponed, regardless of whether they are indoor or outdoor. That said, these events aren’t cancelled, but “on pause.”

She added that many of the province’s beloved Christmas and holiday events will be postponed, too. 

“If we are able to get into a place of control, then some of these lower-risk events may happen again,” said Henry. “But right now, we need to stop all of those opportunities for us to congregate, to go out and do things socially.”

Movie theatres have also been suspended, as well as events at bars and restaurants. However, bars and restaurants will remain open because they offer important ways to ensure that people get meals, explained Henry. 

Art galleries are permitted to have people browsing their collections on a daily basis as long as they have strict COVID-19 safety plans in place. But exhibition openings, larger gatherings and events at galleries must also be postponed. 

What is considered an event?

In the updated public health order, “event” refers to anything which gathers people together whether on a one-time, regular or irregular basis. All events and community-based gatherings as defined in the PHO order are temporarily suspended. 

The following events are not permitted under the new health order: 

  • a gathering in vacation accommodation
  • a private residence
  • banquet hall or another place
  • a party
  • worship service
  • ceremony or celebration of any type
  • reception
  • wedding (unless fewer than 10 people)
  • funeral (unless fewer than 10 people)
  • celebration of life (unless fewer than 10 people)
  • musical, theatrical or dance entertainment or performance
  • live band performance, disc jockey performance
  • strip dancing
  • comedic act
  • art show
  • magic show
  • puppet show
  • fashion show
  • book signing
  • reading
  • recitation
  • display
  • movie
  • film
  • meeting
  • conference
  • lecture
  • talk
  • educational presentation (except in a school or post-secondary educational institution)
  • auction
  • fundraising benefit
  • contest
  • competition
  • quiz
  • game
  • rally
  • festival
  • presentation
  • demonstration
  • athletic
  • sporting or other physical activity
  • exhibition
  • market or fair, including a trade fair, agricultural fair, seasonal fair or episodic indoor event that has as its primary purpose the sale of merchandise or services e.g. Christmas craft markets, home shows, antique fairs and the like and for certainty includes a gathering preceding or following another event.

Social gatherings and events

No social gatherings of any size at your residence with anyone other than your household or core bubble. For example:

  • Do not invite friends or extended family to your household 
  • Do not host gathering outdoors
  • Do not gather in your backyard
  • Do not have playdates for children

All events and community-based gatherings as defined in the PHO order – Gatherings and Events (PDF) are suspended. For example:

  • Galas
  • Musical or theatre performances
  • Seasonal activities
  • Silent auctions

The order is in effect from Nov. 19 at midnight to Dec. 7 at midnight.

Earlier today, Henry announced 1,933 new cases of COVID-19 in the province over three days, as well as 17 fatalities. 

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