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'Carpocalypse' comes to Canada as vehicle shortage hits car rental industry – BNN

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When James Charles-Roberts booked a vehicle back in May, he and his family were looking forward to a two-week holiday in Southern California.

After several attempts to visit Disneyland were thwarted by the COVID-19 pandemic, the November vacation would be a chance for the Victoria, B.C., family to use their theme park tickets before they expire.

However, when Charles-Roberts called in June to move his reservation for a seven passenger Ford Explorer by a day, the cost of the car rental nearly tripled.

“I booked the vehicle for $480 and when I called to make a change the price was $1,286,” he said in an interview. “It was just a minor change so we decided to keep our first reservation.”

The car rental shortage – or “carpocalypse” as its been dubbed in the U.S. – highlights what is expected to be a bumpy economic recovery as supply chain issues throw car rental supply and demand out of whack.

The problem started when nearly all travel was halted at the outset of COVID-19 lockdowns and travel restrictions.

Car rental reservations plummeted, prompting companies to drastically downsize fleets and lay off workers.

“Most if not all car rental operators across the world had to reduce their fleets significantly during the pandemic due to extreme reductions in consumer demand,” said Craig Hirota, vice-president of government relations and member services with the Associated Canadian Car Rental Operators.

“Nobody was travelling for vacation and corporate travel was basically non-existent. It left a lot of unused vehicles sitting on lots.”

Now, the situation has reversed. As the economy reopens and demand returns, a global shortage of semiconductors has crippled vehicle production and caused lengthy delays for new cars and trucks.

“The car rental industry has not been able to resupply their fleets,” Hirota said. “They just can’t get vehicles.”

Enterprise Holdings, the U.S. parent company of Enterprise Rent-A-Car, National Car Rental and Alamo Rent A Car, said the chip shortage “has impacted new vehicle availability and deliveries across the industry at a time when demand is already high.”

The company added in an emailed statement that it’s “working hard to secure additional vehicles to meet the increasing travel demand and support customers’ broader transportation needs.”

In the meantime, car rental operators are jacking up rates amid the tight supply and increasing demand.

“I think there’s some price-gouging going on for sure,” Charles-Roberts said of his experience trying to change his Los Angeles airport vehicle reservation.

The industry-wide car rental crunch is already in full force in the United States, where stories are emerging of tourists renting U-Haul moving vans or private vehicles from locals to get around.

The problem is expected to worsen in Canada this summer, especially in regions that rely heavily on tourism.

Many airport locations in East Coast cities like Halifax, Charlottetown and St. John’s are nearly sold out on weekends this summer.

“The impact is being felt everywhere – at least in hot tourism spots across Canada and the U.S.,” Gary Howard, senior vice-president of marketing and communications with CAA Atlantic, said in an email.

“Most of the fleets are leased so during the high point of COVID, fleets were shrinking,” he said. “Now it is coming back but the car rental companies cannot get enough vehicles back in the fleets.”

While the car rental shortage is expected to be felt more acutely in tourism destinations, prices are up across the country.

Hamilton resident Allyson Rowley said she often rents cars for long-distance travel and to visit family.

In 2019, she said she usually paid about $30 a day, an amount that climbed to about $40 in 2020. But Rowley said she just booked a car for two weeks in August, and the price was $61.52 a day.

“The cost has doubled since before the pandemic,” she said. “I’ve made an ethical and financial choice to not own a car as I mostly walk and bike and only rent a car when I need one, but it’s becoming unaffordable.”

For travellers hoping to rent a car this summer, experts say it’s critical to book early, search beyond airport locations and be prepared to pay more than usual.

It may also require alternatives to car rentals such as car sharing or public transportation as they say the shortage isn’t expected to ease up any time soon.

“If you’re planning travel, we encourage you to reserve a vehicle as early as possible,” Enterprise Holdings said. “Providing flexible travel dates and branch pick up locations in your search may help increase your options.”

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Key COVID-19 numbers in the Ottawa area today – CBC.ca

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  • Ottawa reports three more COVID-19 cases Tuesday.
  • No local health authority reports a COVID-19 hospital patient.
  • A new outbreak makes up most new cases in the Belleville area.

Today’s Ottawa update

Ottawa Public Health (OPH) reported three more COVID-19 cases Tuesday and no new deaths. It removed two cases from its total, as it’s been doing from time to time as it double-checks its database (often due to residents living in other regions).

There are 42 known active cases in the capital.

Its medical officer of health said last week getting vaccinated and following familiar rules such as masking and distancing can stop COVID-19 from taking hold again.

Researchers measuring levels of the coronavirus in Ottawa’s wastewater have found them to be low and stable for about a month. (613covid.ca)

Numbers to watch

4: The weekly incidence rate, a rolling seven-day total of new COVID-19 cases expressed per 100,000 residents.

0: The number of Ottawa residents being treated for COVID-19 in an Ottawa hospital.

0: The number of COVID-19 patients reported by each of the Ottawa-Gatineau area’s seven health authorities as of noon ET Tuesday. Two of them have yet to report their long weekend numbers.

1.16: The number of people infected by a single COVID-19 case, or R(t). A number under one is a sign the spread is slowing.

0: The number of active COVID-19 outbreaks in Ottawa.

Across the region

There are currently fewer than 100 known active cases in eastern Ontario and western Quebec.

Most local health units are generally reporting an average of a new case or two per day and, in eastern Ontario, have met the province’s fully vaccinated threshold for the next reopening step.

Hastings Prince Edward Public Health reported eight more cases Tuesday in its first update since Friday, six of them linked to an outbreak in Frankford, north of Trenton.

The health unit for the Renfrew County area reported six more cases over the long weekend and in the Kingston area, four more cases.

Ontario is currently under Step 3 of the province’s pandemic reopening plan. All of Quebec is under green zone rules.

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Blizzard's President Brack Steps Down – Dark Horizons

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Blizzards President Brack Steps Down

J. Allen Brack, president of “Warcraft” and “Overwatch” creator Blizzard Entertainment, is leaving the company “to pursue new opportunities”.

Brack’s exit comes less than two weeks after Activision Blizzard was sued by the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing over the company’s alleged “pervasive frat boy workplace culture.”

In recent days, multiple horrific stories have emerged in the press of explosive allegations by employees who claimed to have been continuously subjected to sexual harassment, psychological harassment and discrimination within the company. A large crowd of more than a thousand employees rallied outside the company’s campus this past week, the incident making headline news around the world.

Brack was named in the lawsuit as being among the company executives who were allegedly aware of the systemic misconduct.

EVP of development Jen Oneal and EVP of platform and technology Mike Ybarra have now been appointed co-leaders of Blizzard. Oneal joined Blizzard in January, Ybarra came onboard from XBOX in 2019. Both have more than three decades of gaming industry experience between them.

A short statement released by the company’s COO Daniel Alegre says: “Both leaders are deeply committed to all of our employees; to the work ahead to ensure Blizzard is the safest, most welcoming workplace possible for women, and people of any gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or background; to upholding and reinforcing our values; and to rebuilding your trust.”

Source: Kotaku

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Ontario reports single new COVID-19 case in Ottawa Tuesday – CTV Edmonton

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OTTAWA —
Public Health Ontario is reporting a single new case of COVID-19 in Ottawa Tuesday.

A full, local snapshot from Ottawa Public Health is due this afternoon. Daily case counts from OPH often differ from those provided by Public Health Ontario because the two health agencies pull data for their respective daily snapshot reports at different times of the day.

Across the province, Public Health Ontario added 164 new infections on Tuesday and said one more Ontarian had died due to COVID-19. Another 151 cases are now considered resolved.

There was no formal update on the holiday Monday, but the province released the figures Tuesday, reporting an additional 168 new cases and another new death.

Across eastern Ontario, provincial health officials added five additional cases in the last two days.

COVID-19 VACCINES IN OTTAWA

Ottawa Public Health updates vaccine numbers on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. As of Monday:

  • Ottawa residents with 1 dose (12+): 767,352 
  • Ottawa residents with 2 doses (12+): 661,965 
  • Share of population 12 and older with at least one dose: 83 per cent
  • Share of population 12 and older fully vaccinated: 72 per cent
  • Total doses received in Ottawa*: 1,333,790

**Total doses received does not include doses shipped to pharmacies and primary care clinics, but statistics on Ottawa residents with one or two doses includes anyone with an Ottawa postal code who was vaccinated anywhere in Ontario. 

CASES OF COVID-19 AROUND THE REGION

  • Eastern Ontario Health Unit: One new case Monday, zero new cases Tuesday
  • Hastings Prince Edward Public Health: Zero new cases Monday, two new cases Tuesday
  • Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox & Addington Public Health: One new case Monday, zero new cases Tuesday
  • Leeds, Grenville & Lanark District Health Unit: Zero new cases Monday, one new case Tuesday
  • Renfrew County and District Health Unit: Zero new cases Monday and Tuesday

This story will be updated. CTV News Ottawa will have the latest as it becomes available.

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