Restaurants Canada says it’s “extremely disappointed” that the Ontario government has chosen to lift capacity limits in some venues, but not for the “hardest-hit” food service industry.
As of Saturday morning, cinemas, theatres, concert and spectator sports venues and car and horse racing tracks were allowed to open at full capacity.
The province says there have been few outbreaks in the selected settings, and most other public health measures such as masks remain in place.
Capacity rules remain in place in other places requiring proof of vaccination, such as gyms and restaurants.
“Restaurants, bars and other food or drink establishments do not have hard capacity limits, but rather are limited to the number of people that can maintain physical distancing,” Alex Hilkene, a spokesperson for Ontario’s health minister, told CBC News in an email.
“That is because they are higher-risk settings — prolonged close contact in enclosed spaces where face coverings are removed for the entire duration when seated.”
In a statement issued Friday, the national, non-profit association representing Canada’s restaurant and food service industry says it doesn’t understand why it continues to be “singled out” by the Ontario government.
“It is beyond comprehension that 20,000 people can cram into an arena, scream, and closely congregate without masks, while restaurants must adhere to strict distancing regulations which severely restrict the number of customers that can be served,” Restaurants Canada wrote.
The association says the restaurant industry was the first to be closed during the onset of COVID-19, has suffered the longest closures and faced the “deepest restrictions” throughout the pandemic.
It is calling on the province to immediately lift all further restrictions on the industry and provide additional support to recognize the cost of implementing the vaccine passport program.
The Ontario government says it’s making the capacity limit changes based on high vaccination rates, stable public health indicators and the vaccine certificate policy.
Physical distancing requirements are lifting along with capacity limits, with some exceptions such as indoor meeting and event spaces, which must still maintain two metres between people.
What’s happening across Canada
- Sask. parents upset medically fragile children losing care due to COVID-19 surge.
What’s happening around the world
As of Saturday, more than 237.3 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide, according to Johns Hopkins University’s coronavirus-tracking tool. The reported global death toll stood at more than 4.8 million.
In Europe, thousands of demonstrators marched down Rome’s Via Veneto and other main streets on Saturday, many clashing with police, to protest an Italian government rule requiring vaccines or recent negative tests to access workplaces starting next week.
In the Americas, Brazil has topped 600,000 confirmed coronavirus deaths, the second-highest global toll behind the United States.
In Asia, Singapore plans to widen its quarantine-free travel program to include fully vaccinated individuals from South Korea and the United States as the financial hub moves cautiously to reopen its borders.
In Africa, Moderna plans to invest up to $500 million US to build a factory in Africa to make up to 500 million doses of mRNA vaccines each year, including its COVID-19 shot, as pressure grows on the pharmaceutical industry to manufacture drugs on the continent.
COVID-19 benefits set to expire this week in Canada – CTV News
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Sunday released a statement thanking Canadian small business owners for their “dedication, perseverance, and innovation,” less than a week before a number COVID-19 pandemic financial support programs for businesses and individuals are scheduled to end.
On Oct. 23 – the last day of Small Business Week – the Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy (CERS) and the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) are set to expire. Both programs have been extended several times since being implemented in 2020.
Over 200,000 business owners have leaned on CERS for help, and over 450,000 have received benefits from CEWS.
The passage of the Budget Implementation Act allows the government to extend CERS and the CEWS to Nov. 30. Beyond that timeline, new legislation would need to be introduced in Parliament.
But many businesses aren’t yet back on their feet, despite their doors being open again.
“Only 40 per cent of small businesses are at normal levels of sales, 60 per cent are not there yet,” Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) president Dan Kelly told CTVNews.ca on Oct. 7. “I think a lot of people see businesses open, and they just assume that we’re back to normal, but it’s definitely not the case.”
Restaurant owners have been particularly hard-hit. According to a survey by Restaurants Canada, eight out of 10 restaurants across the country are either losing money or barely breaking even, while seven out of 10 are currently taking advantage of government subsidy programs.
As for individual benefits, the Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB), the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB) and the Canada Recovery Caregiver Benefit (CRCB) are also set to terminate on Saturday. These programs, too, can be extended into November by the government.
More than two million Canadians have applied for CRB to date. Nearly 700,000 have applied for CRSB and over 450,000 for CRCB.
With files from CTVNews.ca’s Sarah Turnbull, Nicole Bogart and Brooklyn Neustaeter, and The Canadian Press
Coronavirus: What's happening in Canada and around the world on Sunday – CBC.ca
- Liberals considering whether to extend expiring pandemic supports for businesses, individuals.
- Canadians will still need to take a COVID-19 test to return via land border, says Blair.
- Have a coronavirus question or news tip for CBC News? Email: Covid@cbc.ca
Melbourne, which has spent more time under COVID-19 lockdowns than any other city in the world, is set to lift its stay-at-home orders this week, officials said on Sunday.
By Friday, when some curbs will be lifted, the Australian city of five million people will have been under six lockdowns totalling 262 days, or nearly nine months, since March 2020.
Australian and other media say this is the longest in the world, exceeding a 234-day lockdown in Buenos Aires.
While coronavirus cases keep rising in Victoria state, of which Melbourne is the capital, the state’s double-vaccination rate is set to reach 70 per cent this week, allowing for the ease in restrictions.
“Today is a great day,” Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews said as he announced the end of the lockdowns. “Today is a day when Victorians can be proud of what they have achieved.”
When hospitality venues and some businesses reopen, their capacity will remain heavily restricted. More easing, including the reopening of many retailers, will come once 80 per cent of eligible Victorians are fully vaccinated — estimated by Nov. 5 at the latest.
On Sunday, Victoria recorded 1,838 new coronavirus cases and seven deaths. Neighbouring New South Wales, which emerged last week from a 100-day lockdown, reported 301 cases and 10 deaths. Eighty per cent of the state’s people have been fully vaccinated.
Australia, once a champion of a COVID-zero strategy of managing the pandemic, has been moving toward living with the virus through extensive vaccinations, as the delta variant has proven too transmissible to suppress.
The new strategy makes lockdowns highly unlikely once 80 per cent of the population is fully vaccinated. As of the weekend, about 68 per cent of eligible Australians have been fully inoculated.
Australia’s health officials said on Sunday that quarantine-free travel from New Zealand’s South Island, where there is no outbreak, will resume on Wednesday. The government is also in discussions with Singapore about reopening travel between the two countries for the fully vaccinated.
Despite the rise in cases in recent months, Australia’s coronavirus numbers are low compared with many other developed countries, with just over 143,000 cases and 1,530 deaths.
Neighbouring New Zealand, which is also learning to live with COVID-19 by accelerating inoculations, reported 51 new cases on Sunday, 47 of them in the largest city Auckland, which has been in a lockdown since mid-August. On Saturday, New Zealand vaccinated more than 2.5 per cent of its people as part of a government-led mass vaccination drive.
What’s happening in Canada
- Ont. needs to better track vaccines tied to breakthrough cases, expert says.
- N.B. sees 3 more deaths; rapid testing program to roll out provincewide on Monday.
- Staff, students exposed to case at N.W.T. elementary school, says principal.
- 2nd person linked to a class at Whitehorse Elementary School has tested positive.
What’s happening around the world
As of Sunday, more than 240.4 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide, according to Johns Hopkins University’s coronavirus tracker. The reported global death toll stood at more than 4.8 million.
In Africa, Zimbabwe will bar unvaccinated government workers from reporting for duty beginning Monday. Those barred from work will not get paid.
In Europe, Russia is reporting 34,303 new infections — its largest daily number — as the country faces a sustained rise in cases. It also recorded 999 deaths, barely lower than the record 1,002 deaths reported on Saturday.
In Asia, Sri Lankan authorities are allowing the reopening of cinemas and restaurants and also permitting wedding receptions as a part of the easing of restrictions.
In the Americas, Dr. Anthony Fauci — the leading infectious disease doctor in the U.S. — says it’s “really unfortunate” that Gov. Greg Abbott has moved to ban vaccine mandates in the state of Texas, adding the decision will damage public health.
Costa Rica, Milan among winners of Prince William’s Earthshot environmental prize
Milan and Costa Rica were among the winners of the Earthshot Prize on Sunday, an environmental award created by Britain’s Prince William, who has criticized world leaders for an uninspiring response to the climate change crisis.
The honours were established to find solutions through new technologies or policies to the planet’s biggest environmental problems, with a winner in each of the five categories receiving 1 million pounds ($1.37 million).
Milan won the “Build a Waste-Free World” award for its food waste hubs, which recover food to give to those most in need, while Costa Rica received the “Protect and Restore Nature” prize for programmes paying citizens to plant trees and restore ecosystems.
“We are alive in the most consequential time in human history,” William, second in line to the British throne, said in a video message to the ceremony held in London.
“The actions we choose or choose not to take in the next 10 years will determine the fate of the planet for the next thousand.
British royals have recently made a series of comments on environmental issues.
William took a thinly veiled swipe on Thursday at billionaires embroiled in a space tourism race, saying the world’s greatest brains should instead be focused on solving the environmental problems facing Earth.
Queen Elizabeth has said she was irritated by world leaders who talk about climate change but do nothing to address global warming, and added it was still unclear who would turn up at the upcoming (COP26) climate summit in Glasgow, Scotland.
($1 = 0.7273 pounds)
(Reporting by Costas Pitas; Editing by Peter Cooney)
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