Alberta is lifting almost all COVID-19 restrictions Thursday in the third and final stage of its reopening plan.
It comes two weeks after the province hit a threshold the government set for reopening — 70 per cent of the eligible population receiving first vaccine doses. That number is now up to almost 72 per cent, while more than 38 per cent have received the recommended two shots.
Large events like the Calgary Stampede have the green light to go ahead, and there are no more caps on indoor or outdoor gatherings in restaurants, stores and places of worship.
Edmonton’s mask rule lifts Thursday, in lockstep with the repeal of the provincial mandate, but Calgary’s will continue until July 5.
Masks will still be required while on public transit, in taxis and ride-hailing services like Uber, as well as in continuing care and acute care facilities.
While shoppers in the capital don’t have to wear masks, many store managers have said that their staff will keep them on for now.
Jonn Gluwchynski, owner of the Cutting Room hair salon in Edmonton, says until most people have two vaccine doses, he’s taking extra precautions.
“I can’t cut hair from six feet or ten feet away from a guest, you know, I’m in your face.”
At United Sport & Cycle, operations manager Kelly Hodgson says people in the store should stay two metres apart, even though the province no longer mandates it.
“We’ll still have social distancing signs on the floor, up on our doors.”
Hodgson is letting his staff and customers decide about masks but says he fully believes it’s not the end of masks, and while staff will be taking the signs down, “Let’s just say we won’t be throwing them away.”
Alberta reported two additional deaths and 76 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday.
What’s happening across Canada
As of 7 a.m. ET on Thursday, Canada had reported 1,415,284 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with 7,087 considered active. A CBC News tally of deaths stood at 26,295. More than 37.2 million COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered so far across the country, according to CBC’s vaccine tracker.
British Columbia has entered the next phase of its reopening plan due to a growing COVID-19 vaccination rate and a dramatic drop in cases, while lifting its pandemic-related state of emergency that had been in place since March 2020.
Starting Thursday, residents can go to dinner indoors and outdoors without a limit on numbers, and attend fairs and festivals with a communicable disease plan, such as staying away if they’re sick. The province is also allowing outdoor gatherings of up to 5,000 people.
Masks will no longer be mandatory before further restrictions are removed in September. Although masks aren’t mandatory, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry encourages people to continue wearing them in all indoor places.
Ian Tostenson, president of the BC Restaurant and Foodservices Association, said those still in the industry are worried about a “significant” labour shortage, resulting in restaurants having to make decisions like reducing hours or shortening menus.
B.C. saw about 30 per cent of restaurants close their doors in the last 16 months, he said. The industry employed about 190,000 people before the pandemic began but “straw polls” showed about 40,000 left, he said.
British Columbia reported 44 new cases of COVID-10 and no new deaths on Wednesday.
Newfoundland and Labrador on Thursday reopened to non-essential travellers from outside Atlantic Canada who fill in an entry form.
Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Janice Fitzgerald says the form is available online and must be filled out by anyone coming to the province within three days before their travel. Anyone who is partially vaccinated must upload a negative pre-arrival COVID-19 test.
Those who do not complete the form before arrival will have to self-isolate until they’re contacted by a public health official to verify vaccination and pre-arrival COVID-19 test results.
The province reported one new case of COVID-19 on Wednesday.
New Brunswick reported no new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday after three new cases were confirmed the previous day.
The province also broke its vaccination records, administering 18,827 doses on Wednesday. That pushed the second-dose vaccination rate to 36.1 per cent, and the first-dose vaccination rate to 78 per cent.
Elsewhere in Atlantic Canada on Wednesday, Nova Scotia reported four new cases and P.E.I. did not report any new cases.
Ontario on Wednesday reported 14 additional deaths and 184 new cases of COVID-19.
In Quebec on Wednesday, health officials reported 126 new cases of COVID-19 and three additional deaths.
Across the North, there were no new cases reported in Nunavut or the Northwest Territories on Wednesday. Health officials in Yukon did not report figures for the day.
What’s happening around the world
As of Thursday morning, more than 182.2 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported around the world, according to data published by Johns Hopkins University in the United States. The reported global death toll stood at more than 3.9 million.
A 10-week decline in new COVID-19 cases across Europe has come to an end and a new wave of infections is inevitable if citizens and legislators do not “remain disciplined,” the head of WHO in Europe, Dr. Hans Kluge, told a news briefing on Thursday.
Kluge cited a 10 per cent increase in infection numbers over the last week because of “increased mixing, travel, gatherings and easing of social restrictions.”
He cautioned that the highly transmissible delta variant is on track to be the dominant one by August in the 53-country region.
Some 63 per cent of people in the region haven’t had a first vaccine jab, he said.
“The three conditions for a new wave of excess hospitalizations and deaths before the autumn are therefore in place: New variants, deficit in vaccine uptake, increased social mixing,” he told reporters from Copenhagen.
Vaccine promises for Africa fail
In Africa, the African Union special envoy tasked with leading efforts to procure COVID-19 vaccines for the continent is blasting Europe as Africa struggles amid a crushing third wave of infections.
Strive Masiyiwa on Thursday said that “not one dose, not one vial, has left a European factory for Africa.”
Masiyiwa also took aim at the global COVAX effort to distribute vaccines to low- and middle-income countries, accusing COVAX of withholding crucial information including that key donors had not met funding pledges. He didn’t name which donors.
The African continent of 1.3 billion people is now in the grip of a third wave of infections the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention calls “extremely aggressive.”
Masiyiwa said COVAX had promised to deliver 700 million vaccine doses to Africa by December. But at mid-year, Africa has received just 65 million doses overall. Less than 50 million doses via COVAX have arrived.
In the Asia-Pacific region, hundreds of vaccinated foreign tourists arrived on Thailand’s resort island of Phuket on Thursday, the first visitors under a pilot program designed to revive a tourism industry devastated by the pandemic.
Under the “Phuket sandbox” plan, foreign tourists fully vaccinated against COVID-19 will not have to spend any time in quarantine and can move around the island freely.
Have questions about this story? We’re answering as many as we can in the comments.
Coronavirus: What's happening in Canada and around the world Wednesday – CBC.ca
- Travellers who were fully vaccinated in the United States or European Union won’t have to quarantine when entering England — but vaccinated Canadians will still need to follow quarantine rules.
- Tokyo reports 3,177 new COVID-19 cases — a new single-day high.
- Man charged with emailing death threats to Dr. Anthony Fauci, U.S. prosecutors say.
- INTERACTIVE | Where is the coronavirus pandemic getting better or worse?
- Have a coronavirus question or news tip for CBC News? Email: Covid@cbc.ca or join us live in the comments now.
Dr. Rochelle Walensky says new mask-wearing guidance, coupled with higher rates of vaccination against COVID-19, could halt the current escalation of infections in “a couple of weeks.”
The director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention told CBS This Morning she hopes more stringent mask-wearing guidelines and other measures won’t be necessary as the country heads into the fall.
“We can halt the chain of transmission,” she said. “We can do something if we unify together, if we get people vaccinated who are not yet vaccinated, if we mask in the interim, we can halt this in just a matter of a couple of weeks.”
With the delta variant fuelling a surge of infections across the country, the CDC on Tuesday recommended even vaccinated people return to wearing masks indoors in areas where the variant is prevalent.
Walensky said 80 per cent of the counties with the highest number of infections have less than 40 per cent of people vaccinated.
The nation is averaging more than 57,000 cases a day and 24,000 COVID-19 hospitalizations. The guidance on masks in indoor public places applies in parts of the U.S. with at least 50 new cases per 100,000 people in the last week.
–From The Associated Press last updated at 9:45 a.m. ET
What’s happening in Canada
What’s happening around the world
As of early Wednesday morning, more than 195.3 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide, according to a case-tracking tool maintained by Johns Hopkins University. The reported global death toll stood at more than 4.1 million.
In Africa, Tanzanian President Samia Suluhu Hassan received her vaccine in public, in the most decisive signal yet of a break from the policies of her late predecessor who repeatedly dismissed the threat of the pandemic.
Zimbabwe has authorized the emergency use of Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine, the first Western-made shot to be approved by the southern African nation, its medicines regulator said.
In Europe, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson urged caution on Wednesday about drawing conclusions from a seven-day decline in COVID-19 cases in Britain, saying it was too early to assess whether it was a definite trend.
“We have seen some encouraging recent data. There’s no question about that but it is far, far too early to draw any general conclusions,” Johnson told LBC radio.
In the Asia-Pacific region, Indonesia recorded 47,791 new cases and 1,824 confirmed in the last 24 hours. The Health Ministry recorded 558,392 active cases in Indonesia, with more than 81,000 cases from Sumatra regions.
In the Middle East, Israel is considering giving a third shot of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine to its elderly population, even before FDA approval, to help fend off the delta variant.
-From Reuters, The Associated Press and CBC News, last updated at 11:50 a.m. ET
Have questions about this story? We’re answering as many as we can in the comments.
Canada not among countries exempt from quarantine for travel into England – CBC.ca
The government of the United Kingdom announced today that travellers to England who have been vaccinated against COVID-19 in the European Union or United States will be exempt from mandatory quarantine upon arrival — but fully vaccinated travellers from Canada will still have to undergo quarantine.
The change goes into effect on Aug. 2, according to a news release from the U.K. government. While the U.K. Department for Transport has confirmed for CBC News that the change does not apply to Canadians, no reason has been given for the exclusion.
In a statement issued to CBC News, a Department for Transport spokesperson did not say why Canadians are not exempt.
“We are taking a phased approach to restarting international travel while protecting public health,” it reads. “We want to welcome all international visitors back to the U.K. and are working to extend our approach to vaccinated passengers from important markets and holiday destinations.”
From 2 August, passengers who are fully vaccinated from the US and European countries (currently excludes arrivals from France) will be able to travel from Amber countries to England without quarantine.<br><br>We are also restarting international cruises. Find out more👇
That means travellers from Canada to England will still have to quarantine at home or in the place they’re staying for 10 days, and take a COVID-19 test on or after their eighth day in the country. A few exceptions apply — one of which covers travellers who have been vaccinated in the U.K. A full list of rules can be found on the Department for Transport’s website.
“Passengers who are fully vaccinated in the EU with vaccines authorised by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) or in the USA with vaccines authorised by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), or in the Swiss vaccination programme, will be able to travel to England without having to quarantine or take a day 8 test on arrival,” the news release says.
The exemption applies to some European countries outside of the EU, such as Norway and Iceland, but travellers from France will still have to quarantine even if they are fully vaccinated.
No updates for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland
According to BBC News, the government of Scotland has not made a decision on exempting fully vaccinated travellers from the U.S. and Europe. As of today, Wales and Northern Ireland also have not updated their rules for travel — which require a quarantine upon arrival from outside the U.K. unless the traveller was fully vaccinated through the U.K. vaccination programme.
IRCC: Canada welcomed over 35,000 new immigrants in June – Canada Immigration News
Canada recorded its strongest month for new permanent resident arrivals during the pandemic in June 2021, according to the office of Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino.
In a recent Globe and Mail article, the minister says “We are going to make good on our commitment to land 401,000 new permanent residents.”
Under its Immigration Levels Plan 2021-2023, the Canadian government is seeking to welcome at least 401,000 new immigrants annually, beginning this year. Prior to the pandemic, this target was set at 341,000 newcomers.
The plan is the most ambitious in Canada’s history. Only once has Canada welcomed over 400,000 immigrants in a year. This took place in 1913, but Canadian immigration plummeted immediately after due to the onset of the First World War.
The minister’s office estimates that Canada welcomed over 35,000 new permanent residents in June. In follow up email correspondence with CIC News, the department of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) said its preliminary figures show Canada welcomed 35,700 immigrants last month. This figure is significantly higher than Canada’s totals in recent months.
Canada got off to a strong start to the year. It welcomed 24,680 new immigrants in January but lost momentum in the months to follow. The country then welcomed 23,395 in February, 22,425 in March, and 21,155 in April, and 17,100 in May.
Altogether Canada has welcomed some 143,000 new permanent residents through the first six months of 2021 which remains well short of the pace it needs to welcome 401,000 newcomers by the end of this year.
In order to achieve this newcomer target, Canada needs to land another 258,000 immigrants — an average of 43,000 per month — over the rest of the year.
Welcoming this volume of immigration over the remaining six months will be difficult but there is an outside chance it can be achieved.
Prior to the pandemic Canada welcomed an average of 25,000 to 35,000 newcomers per month. Immigration levels tend to be higher in the warmer months as more newcomers arrive during favourable weather conditions and leading up to the start of the academic and business calendar in September.
In 2019, levels were stronger in the second half of the year compared to the first as Canada welcomed 180,000 newcomers between July and December.
Assuming Canada welcomes that same level in the second half of 2021, it will conclude the year at just over 320,000 new permanent residents which is still below its target.
However there are several tailwinds remaining that could propel Canada closer to its newcomer goal.
Some 23,000 additional Confirmation of Permanent Residence (COPR) holders are now eligible to move to Canada after restrictions on them were eased on June 21st.
Anyone else newly approved for permanent residence can also immediately move to Canada as a result of this easing.
IRCC also introduced six new permanent residency streams that will enable some 90,000 international student graduates and essential workers to remain in Canada. The department’s goal is to process some 40,000 of these applications by the end of this year.
The third tailwind is also from the domestic pool of permanent residence candidates. IRCC has been breaking various Express Entry records throughout the year as it prioritizes Canadian Experience Class (CEC) candidates.
Draw sizes are larger than ever while cut-off scores are at record lows. According to IRCC, some 90 per cent of CEC candidates currently reside in Canada so it is easier for the department to transition them to permanent residence amid the pandemic than candidates abroad. IRCC has already issued nearly 100,000 Express Entry invitations this year which is almost double the invitations it issued at the same point in 2020. A significant portion of those invited during the pandemic should complete their permanent residence landing by the end of 2021.
The minister’s office told the Globe that the 45,100 permanent residence applications IRCC processed in June were the highest ever, which suggests that IRCC has the capacity to process and finalize the necessary number of applications to achieve its levels goal.
There are risks along the way that could disrupt IRCC’s plans. The global coronavirus situation remains volatile and things such as increased case levels and travel restrictions could get in the way. For example, Canada continues to restrict flights from its main newcomer source country, India.
A prolonging of this restriction could get in the way of IRCC’s goal. Further delays to COPR holder arrivals is another risk. IRCC is currently seeking to correspond with thousands of expired COPR holders to arrange their landing in Canada. This is a time-consuming process as IRCC needs to individually contact each COPR holder to ensure they have all the necessary documents to complete the immigration process.
Nonetheless, the coming months should see immigration levels remain high. There also remains a strong chance that monthly immigration totals will hit record highs by the end of the year due to the combination of more overseas arrivals and in-Canada applicants completing their landings.
© CIC News All Rights Reserved. Visit CanadaVisa.com to discover your Canadian immigration options.
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