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Coronavirus: Haunted houses still finding ways to scare around COVID-19 precautions – thepeakfm.com

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TORONTO — Psychotic clowns. Axe murderers. Bedrooms possessed by poltergeists.

Many of the frights greeting visitors of horror attractions this Halloween will be familiar, but the thrill-creators behind them say one terrifying experience is squarely off-limits: the terrors of COVID-19.

Before the pandemic shook our lives, haunted houses sometimes dipped into the fears of contagion, splashing themed rooms with signs of a viral outbreak, hazmat suits and contamination warnings.

Read more:
A coronavirus Halloween has some parents spooked. Here’s how to keep it safe

But with those experiences uncomfortably close to reality this year, horror masters like Shawn Lippert say reminding people of the virus is one line they’re not willing to cross.

“We use the analogy: Treat `COVID’ like the F-word in church,” said the owner of Scarehouse, an industrial-sized indoor haunted house in Windsor, Ont.

“It’s too real and so close to home. It’s almost like when you tell a joke and they say, `Too soon.”’

Lippert said that’s one of several rules he’s introduced at his haunt in order to keep people feeling safe and heath authorities satisfied. Ticketholders arrive at staggered times, and everyone is required to wear a mask.

Creepy objects that once brushed against visitors have been removed, and the giant airbags that evoke the feeling of claustrophobia have been stowed away to decrease the potential spread of germs.

Lippert describes those as small changes in a challenging year.

Many haunt operators were jittery about moving ahead with their usual Halloween festivities, considering health authorities could shut down the houses without much notice if the region experiences a surge in local cases. That would leave a brutal dent in their investments.

“If we can keep our doors open for the full run at this point, that would be a success for us,” Lippert said.

Several Toronto haunted houses decided the risk was too high. Casa Loma’s Legends of Horror and 28-year pillar Screemers at Exhibition Place were among the operators who decided to sit this year out, even before the city introduced tighter restrictions that would’ve closed them anyway.

Some organizers have used the pandemic to imagine ways to scare the living daylights out of people from a distance _ often from the safety of their own vehicles.

The Pickering Museum Village put a historic spin on its spooky experience with a drive-thru tour that urged visitors to creep their cars along a roadway checkered with old houses, as ghost stories played on their FM radios.

Others have gone online with virtual group parties for kids or, for those of legal drinking age, what’s being sold as Canada’s first Virtual Halloween Cocktail Crawl.

Mentalist Jaymes White decided to embrace the digital world this year for his annual Halloween seances. His new Zoom experience, called Evoke, invites a small circle of friends to channel a spirit through video chat. He admits the idea goes against the traditions of a seance, where people usually hold hands around a table, but he’s confident the spirits will still be ready to unsettle his guests.

“They don’t care that we have a pandemic,” he said.

Paul Magnuson, one of the leaders at Calgary artist collective Big Art, will take over a downtown self-serve car wash for three days for a drive-in of the dead later this month.

Scare Wash is described as a trip to hell and back that begins when a wash attendee’s seemingly normal car rinse spirals into a nightmare.

Magnuson came up with the idea when it was clear plans for his usual neighbourhood spectacle wouldn’t be possible in the pandemic.

“Last year I turned my garage into a Dexter killer room where we did performances all night. In previous years I’ve had an interactive cemetery,” he said.

“I’m not going to let COVID take this holiday.”

Robbie Lavoie felt a similar conviction for keeping Terror Train on track this year at the National Ontario Railroad Museum and Heritage Centre. The annual Halloween event draws thousands of people to Capreol, Ont., part of Greater Sudbury, and provides the museum with a healthy dose of revenue.

Lavoie said he drew inspiration from videos he saw of a Japanese zombie drive-in haunted house over the summer. He knew there was a way to tone down the gore and make the idea a bit more Canadian.

READ MORE: Halloween sales could be weak with COVID-19 casting doubts on trick-or-treating

After speaking with museum organizers, Lavoie secured the board’s approval for “Inferno 6077,” an immersive drive-in horror experience inside the garage of the fire hall.

Pulling from his own knowledge of working in live theatre and movies, Lavoie began thinking on a grand scale. He hired a local writer who penned a story about townsfolk who seek revenge on an old man, and built rolling set pieces for the spectacle, which reaches its peak when the space is engulfed in flames, an illusion created with lights and projections.

“We’re putting you almost in an interactive movie, and it all came together within a month,” he said.

“I see myself doing this again next year, even if there isn’t COVID.”

READ MORE: Dr. Bonnie Henry’s advice for trick-or-treating during pandemic

Kathrine Petch understands the urge to keep Halloween on the calendar. As the general manager of Deadmonton Haunted House in Edmonton, she’s laid down strict COVID-19 precautions for their Area 51-themed haunt.

“The absolute, pure excitement of the customers is contagious to us,” she said.

“As long as we can pay the bills and have some money left over to make a different haunted house next year, I think we’ll be pretty happy.”

Petch said keeping Deadmonton open during the pandemic was important to everyone who runs the show.

“One of our biggest goals was to provide people with some kind of escape from all the crappiness that is 2020,” she said.

“And when they reach the end of our haunted house, at least they know the scares are done.”

© 2020 The Canadian Press

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Province Announces Windsor Essex Is Moving To Red 'Control' Status – windsoriteDOTca News

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Ontario Ministry of Health graphic

The province of Ontario announced Friday that Windsor Essex will be moving to Red, or “Control” status under the province’s COVID-19 response framework.

The changes will come into effect on Monday, November 30th 12:01am.

“The health and safety of all Ontarians is and will always be our top priority, that’s why we are following the advice of the Chief Medical Officer of Health and other health experts and making this adjustment today,” said Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health. “Over the last week we have seen a shift in the trends of key public health indicators in regions across the province, and by moving [regions to new levels] in the framework, we can ensure that the necessary targeted measures are in place to stop the spread of the virus and allow us to keep our schools and businesses open.”

Article Continues Below Local Sponsor Message

Windsor-Essex joins four other regions moving to different levels under the framework. Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit is moving to Orange-Restrict, and Hastings Prince Edward Public Health, Lambton Public Health, and Northwestern Health Unit are moving to Yellow-Protect.

The Red status is one status away from the province’s Lockdown status.

Red ‘Control’ status means the following, according to the province:

Changes from Orange – Restrict to Red – Control are marked in red.

Organized public events, social gatherings and religious services, rites and ceremonies

  • Limits for all organized public events and social gatherings:
    • 5 people indoors
    • 25 people outdoors
  • Limits for religious services rites or ceremonies, including wedding services and funeral services (apply regardless of the venue where held):
    • 30% capacity of the room indoors
    • 100 people outdoors

Restaurants, bars and other food and drink establishments

  • Maximum number of patrons permitted to be seated indoors is 10
  • Outdoor dining, take out, drive through, and delivery permitted, including alcohol
  • Require patrons to be seated; 2 metre minimum or impermeable barrier required between tables
  • Limit of 4 people may be seated together
  • Dancing, singing and the live performance of music is prohibited
  • Require contact information for all seated patrons
  • No buffet style service
  • Line-ups and patrons congregating outside venues managed by venue; 2 metres distance and face covering required
  • Face coverings required except when eating or drinking only
  • Personal protective equipment, including eye protection required when is a worker must come within 2 metres of another person who is not wearing a face covering
  • Establishments must be closed from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m.
  • Liquor sold or served only between 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.
  • No consumption of liquor permitted between 10 p.m. to 9 a.m.
  • Limit volume of music to be low enough that a normal conversation is possible
  • Screening of patrons is required, in accordance with instructions issued by the Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health
  • Night clubs and strip clubs only permitted to operate as restaurant or bar
  • A safety plan is required to be prepared and made available upon request

Sports and recreational fitness facilities

  • Gyms and fitness studios permitted to be open with maximum of:
    • 10 people indoors or 25 people outdoors in classes; and
    • 10 people indoors in areas with weights or exercise equipment
  • No spectators permitted (exemption for parent and guardian supervision of children)
  • Increase spacing between patrons to 3 metres for areas of a sport or recreational facility where there are weights or exercise equipment and in exercise and fitness classes
  • Team sports must not be practiced or played except for training (no games or scrimmage)
  • Activities that are likely to result in individuals coming within 2 metres of each other are not permitted; no contact permitted for team or individual sports, with an exemption for high performance, including parasport, athletes.
  • Patrons may only be in the facility for 90 minutes except if engaging in a sport
  • Limit volume of music to be low enough that a normal conversation is possible; measures to prevent shouting by both instructors and members of the public
  • Face coverings required except when exercising
  • Require contact information for all members of the public that enter the facility
  • Require reservation for entry; one reservation for teams
  • Screening of patrons is required, in accordance with instructions issued by the Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health
  • A safety plan is required to be prepared and made available upon request

Meeting and event spaces

  • Maximum of 10 people per facility indoors or 25 outdoors
  • Booking multiple rooms for the same event not permitted
  • Establishments must be closed from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m.
  • Liquor sold or served only between 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.
  • No consumption of liquor permitted between 10 p.m. to 9 a.m.
  • Require contact information for all seated patrons
  • Limit of 4 people may be seated together
  • Limit volume of music to be low enough that a normal conversation is possible
  • Screening of patrons is required, in accordance with instructions issued by the Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health
  • A safety plan is required to be prepared and made available upon request

Retail

  • Fitting rooms must be limited to non-adjacent stalls
  • Line-ups and patrons congregating outside venues managed by venue; 2 metre distance required inside and outside; face covering also required while in line
  • Limit volume of music to be low enough that a normal conversation is possible
  • Screening of patrons is required, in accordance with instructions issued by the Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health
  • For malls:
    • Maximum number of patrons permitted to be seated indoors in mall food court is 10
    • A safety plan is required to be prepared and made available upon request

Personal care services

  • Oxygen bars, steam rooms, saunas, bath houses and other adult venues, closed
  • Sensory deprivation pods closed (some exceptions)
  • Services requiring removal of face coverings prohibited
  • Require contact information from all patrons
  • Screening of patrons is required, in accordance with instructions issued by the Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health
  • A safety plan is required to be prepared and made available upon request

Casinos, bingo halls and gaming establishments

  • Maximum of 10 people indoors or 25 people outdoors
  • Table games are prohibited
  • Liquor sold or served only between 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.
  • No consumption of liquor permitted between 10 p.m. to 9 a.m.
  • Require contact information from all patrons
  • Screening of patrons is required, in accordance with instructions issued by the Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health
  • A safety plan is required to be prepared and made available upon request

Cinemas

  • Closed, except for:
    • drive-in cinemas
    • rehearsal or performing a recorded or broadcasted event, with restrictions:
      • Performers and employees must maintain 2 metre physical distance except for purposes of the performance
      • Singers and players of brass or wind instruments must be separated from any other performers by plexiglass or other impermeable barrier
  • A safety plan is required to be prepared and made available upon request

Performing arts facilities

  • Closed to spectators
  • Rehearsal or performing a recorded or broadcasted event permitted
    • Performers and employees must maintain 2 metre physical distance except for purposes of the performance
    • Singers and players of brass or wind instruments must be separated from any other performers by plexiglass or other impermeable barrier
  • Drive-in performances permitted
  • A safety plan is required to be prepared and made available upon request

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Waterloo Region to remain in red (control) zone – KitchenerToday.com

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Waterloo Region will continue to stay in the red (control) zone of the province’s response framework, at least for now.

Just one new region will be moving into red on Monday, and that’s Windsor-Essex.

Waterloo Region was placed into the red zone on Monday, November 23.

Earlier this week, the region’s medical officer of health also issued a Section 22 order when it comes to malls and retail stores.

It requires them to ensure capacity is managed and actively monitored, such that adequate physical distancing can be maintained.

That order came into effect on Friday morning.

The active COVID-19 caseload in Waterloo Region is 460, the highest it has ever been.

Below are the control measures for red:

Organized public events, social gatherings and religious services, rites and ceremonies

  • Limits for all organized public events and social gatherings:
    • 5 people indoors
    • 25 people outdoors
  • Limits for religious services rites or ceremonies, including wedding services and funeral services (apply regardless of the venue where held):
    • 30% capacity of the room indoors
    • 100 people outdoors

Restaurants, bars and other food and drink establishments

  • Maximum number of patrons permitted to be seated indoors is 10
  • Outdoor dining, take out, drive through, and delivery permitted, including alcohol
  • Require patrons to be seated; 2 metre minimum or impermeable barrier required between tables
  • Limit of 4 people may be seated together
  • Outdoor dining, take out, drive through and delivery permitted
  • Dancing, singing and the live performance of music is prohibited
  • Require contact information for all seated patrons
  • No buffet style service
  • Line-ups and patrons congregating outside venues managed by venue; 2 metres distance and face covering required
  • Face coverings required except when eating or drinking only
  • Personal protective equipment, including eye protection required when a worker must come within 2 metres of another person who is not wearing a face covering
  • Establishments must be closed from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m.
  • Liquor sold or served only between 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.
  • No consumption of liquor permitted between 10 p.m. to 9 a.m.
  • Limit volume of music to be low enough that a normal conversation is possible
  • Screening of patrons is required, in accordance with instructions issued by the Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health
  • Night clubs and strip clubs only permitted to operate as restaurant or bar
  • safety plan is required to be prepared and made available upon request

Sports and recreational fitness facilities

  • Gyms and fitness studios permitted to be open with maximum of:
    • 10 people indoors or 25 people outdoors in classes; and
    • 10 people indoors in areas with weights or exercise equipment
  • No spectators permitted (exemption for parent and guardian supervision of children)
  • Increase spacing between patrons to 3 metres for areas of a sport or recreational facility where there are weights or exercise equipment and in exercise and fitness classes
  • Team sports must not be practiced or played except for training (no games or scrimmage)
  • Activities that are likely to result in individuals coming within 2 metres of each other are not permitted; no contact permitted for team or individual sports, with an exemption for high performance, including parasport, athletes.
  • Patrons may only be in the facility for 90 minutes except if engaging in a sport
  • Limit volume of music to be low enough that a normal conversation is possible; measures to prevent shouting by both instructors and members of the public
  • Face coverings required except when exercising
  • Require contact information for all members of the public that enter the facility
  • Require reservation for entry; one reservation for teams
  • Screening of patrons is required, in accordance with instructions issued by the Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health
  • safety plan is required to be prepared and made available upon request

Recreational facilities and community centres in Waterloo Region (update issued Friday) 

  • Indoor capacity of 10 program participants per room/space, provided physical distancing can be maintained.
  • Outdoor capacity of 25 program participants per space, provided physical distancing can be maintained.
  • Additional coaching and training staff are permitted, limited strictly to those officially rostered with the team/athletes as identified in their provincial association’s return to play protocols, provided physical distancing can be maintained.
  • No spectators permitted. Where previously allowed, one guardian per minor aged participant is permitted. Masks for guardians are mandatory, and physical distancing must be maintained.
  • Aquatics classes are limited to 10 participants per class. If physical distancing can be maintained and total pool capacity remains below 30%, more than one class may be in the pool at a time.
  • Mandatory active screening, contact information and attendance for all patrons.
  • Drop-in recreation programs (pre-registration is required) have a maximum capacity of 10 people. 
  • For all team sport, scrimmages and games are no longer permitted.
  • Teams must adjust their programming to training and skill development only, while meeting the required maximum capacity numbers.
  • No contact permitted for team or individual sports.
  • Community centre room rentals for church, funeral or wedding services are limited to 30% of room capacity.

Meeting and event spaces

  • Maximum of 10 people per facility indoors or 25 outdoors
  • Establishments must be closed from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m.
  • Liquor sold or served only between 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.
  • No consumption of liquor permitted between 10 p.m. to 9 a.m.
  • Require contact information for all seated patrons
  • Limit of 4 people may be seated together
  • Limit volume of music to be low enough that a normal conversation is possible
  • Screening of patrons is required, in accordance with instructions issued by the Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health
  • safety plan is required to be prepared and made available upon request

Retail

  • Fitting rooms must be limited to non-adjacent stalls
  • Line-ups and patrons congregating outside venues managed by venue; 2 metre distance required inside and outside; face covering also required while in line
  • Limit volume of music to be low enough that a normal conversation is possible
  • Screening of patrons is required, in accordance with instructions issued by the Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health
  • For malls:
    • Maximum number of patrons permitted to be seated indoors in mall food court is 10
    • safety plan is required to be prepared and made available upon request

Personal care services

  • Oxygen bars, steam rooms, saunas, bath houses and other adult venues, closed
  • Sensory deprivation pods closed (some exceptions)
  • Require contact information from all patrons
  • Screening of patrons is required, in accordance with instructions issued by the Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health
  • safety plan is required to be prepared and made available upon request

Casinos, bingo halls and gaming establishments

  • Maximum of 10 people indoors or 25 people outdoors
  • Table games are prohibited
  • Liquor sold or served only between 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.
  • No consumption of liquor permitted between 10 p.m. to 9 a.m.
  • Require contact information from all patrons
  • Screening of patrons is required, in accordance with instructions issued by the Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health
  • safety plan is required to be prepared and made available upon request

Cinemas

  • Closed, except for:
    • drive-in cinemas
    • rehearsal or performing a recorded or broadcasted event, with restrictions:
      • Performers and employees must maintain 2 metre physical distance except for purposes of the performance
      • Singers and players of brass or wind instruments must be separated from any other performers by plexiglass or other impermeable barrier
  • safety plan is required to be prepared and made available upon request

Performing arts facilities

  • Closed to spectators
  • Rehearsal or performing a recorded or broadcasted event permitted
    • Performers and employees must maintain 2 metre physical distance except for purposes of the performance
    • Singers and players of brass or wind instruments must be separated from any other performers by plexiglass or other impermeable barrier
  • Drive-in performances permitted
  • safety plan is required to be prepared and made available upon request

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Earth is 2000 light years closer to supermassive black hole at the center of our galaxy than we thought – CTV News

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A new map of the Milky Way by Japanese space experts has put Earth 2,000 light years closer to the supermassive black hole at the center of our galaxy.

This map has suggested that the center of the Milky Way, and the black hole which sits there, is located 25,800 light-years from Earth. This is closer than the official value of 27,700 light-years adopted by the International Astronomical Union in 1985, the National Observatory of Japan said.

What’s more, according to the map, our solar system is traveling at 227 kilometers per second as it orbits around the galactic center — this is faster than the official value of 220 kilometers per second, the release added.

These updated values are a result of more than 15 years of observations by the Japanese radio astronomy project VERA, according to an announcement released Thursday from the National Observatory of Japan. VERA is short for VLBI Exploration of Radio Astrometry and refers to the mission’s array of telescopes, which use Very Long Baseline Interferometry to explore the three-dimensional structure of the Milky Way.

Because the Earth is located inside the Milky Way, it’s difficult to step back and see what the galaxy looks like. To get around this, the project used astrometry, the accurate measurement of the position and motion of objects, to understand the overall structure of the Milky Way and Earth’s place in it.

The black hole is known as Sagittarius A* or Sgr A* and is 4.2 million times more massive than our sun. The supermassive hole and its enormous gravitational field governs the orbits of stars at the center of the Milky Way. Reinhard Genzel and Andrea Ghez earned the 2020 Nobel prize for physics for its discovery. There are several types of black holes, and scientists believe the supermassive ones may be connected to the formation of galaxies, as they often exist at the center of the massive star systems — but it’s still not clear exactly how, or which form first.

MORE PRECISE APPROACH

In August, VERA published its first catalog, containing data for 99 celestial objects. Based on this catalog and recent observations by other groups, astronomers constructed a position and velocity map. From this map, the scientists were able to calculate the center of the galaxy, the point that everything revolves around.

VERA combines data from four radio telescopes across Japan. The observatory said that, when combined, the telescopes were able to achieve a resolution that in theory would allow the astronomers to spot a United States penny placed on the surface of the Moon.

To be clear, the changes don’t mean Earth is plunging toward the black hole, the observatory said. Rather, the map more accurately identifies where the solar system has been all along.

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