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COVID-19: Consequences coming for Vancouver restaurants defying public health orders – Vancouver Sun

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“There most certainly will be consequences for those openly ignoring and defying orders that are intended to keep British Columbians safe,” said B.C. public safety minister Mike Farnworth on Sunday

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Businesses putting staff and patrons at risk by remaining open in defiance of COVID-19 rules will face consequences, British Columbia’s public safety minister said Sunday as the province works to bring surging infections under control.

The warning from Mike Farnworth comes after at least two Vancouver restaurants flouted restrictions by serving patrons indoors.

“Harassment of enforcement officials will not be tolerated, and closure orders by Vancouver Coastal Health or any other health authority must be respected,” Farnworth said in a statement.

“There most certainly will be consequences for those openly ignoring and defying orders that are intended to keep British Columbians safe.”

The COVID-19 provincial public health order that bans indoor dining runs until April 19.

Under the government’s new restrictions announced earlier this week, restaurants can only serve patrons on patios or takeout. Both Gusto restaurant in Olympic Village and Corduroy in Kitsilano have indicated they will remain open to serve customers.

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Anyone hosting a non-compliant event can currently be issued a violation ticket of $2,300, while individuals face a $575 fine.

Federico Fuoco, owner of Gusto.
Federico Fuoco, owner of Gusto. Photo by Francis Georgian /PNG

Gusto restaurant owner Federico Fuoco, who already had to close one of his restaurants because of the pandemic, says these restrictions will be the “final nail in the coffin” for small business owners.

He says it’s unfair that people are still allowed to cram into malls, eat on ferries, or shop at busy mega-stores like Costco and Walmart. He also questioned why the government is allowing indoor wine tasting to continue.

“Why just our industry? If it was a blanket policy, at least that would be fair. If there are outbreaks, like at the poultry factories, then you isolate that one. But to punish one industry to me, it is discriminatory,” said Fuoco.

Two Vancouver restaurants have defied provincial health restrictions on restaurant openings as a result in the spike of COVID-19 cases. One is Corduroy, which has signs claiming sovereign citizen rights posted in its doorway, although the restaurant was closed Saturday afternoon. The second is Gusto restaurant (pictured) in the Olympic Village.
Two Vancouver restaurants have defied provincial health restrictions on restaurant openings as a result in the spike of COVID-19 cases. One is Corduroy, which has signs claiming sovereign citizen rights posted in its doorway, although the restaurant was closed Saturday afternoon. The second is Gusto restaurant (pictured) in the Olympic Village. Photo by Jason Payne /PNG

On Friday, Fuoco said he would continue to serve people indoors in defiance of the order to take a stand against the “unfair” measures hurting small restaurants. Vancouver Coastal Health confirmed Saturday that it has issued a closure order to the Salt Street restaurant.

Fuoco said Saturday morning that he is trying to get VCH to lift the order, but he will abide by it for now.

“This order should be lifted immediately. If you are restricting us, you should restrict everybody.”

Fuoco, who is also a Non-Partisan Association board member, said he installed Plexiglas dividers and hand-sanitizing stations and insists he has been following all social distancing rules. He said the expense has become too much for restaurants and he fears many will go under.

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“Restaurants struggle in the best of times when there isn’t a pandemic. Plexiglas is at a premium. It’s like buying gold right now,” he said.

Fuoco added that on a day when it’s raining, there are no customers who want to sit outside.

“Restaurants are worried that come April 19 the order will be extended, and if that’s the case wait and see how many restaurants will close. They will not be able to weather this. What are people supposed to do if they don’t have a patio? They can’t survive on takeout alone.”

Meantime, in a video posted to Instagram Friday, Rebecca Matthews, owner of Corduroy, tells a crowd of anti-maskers that their restaurant is “officially open.”

In her speech, Matthews rails against the government for closing indoor seating, says she distrusts the media, and questions whether the data on the COVID numbers is accurate.

“The cure cannot be worse than the cause, and it’s time to open up our doors,” she said.

At Corduroy Saturday, a sign was posted on the front door claiming sovereign citizen rights. So-called sovereign citizens believe they are exempt from government rules and only follow their particular interpretations of the common law. Some don’t pay their taxes. However, they are not exempt from the law and can face criminal charges and even prison.

Four years ago, B.C. Supreme Court Justice Murray Blok said these arguments have never been successful in any court and called them “sheer and utter nonsense.”

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Two Vancouver restaurants have defied provincial health restrictions on restaurant openings as a result in the spike of COVID-19 cases. One is Corduroy (pictured) which has signs claiming sovereign citizen rights posted in its doorway, although the restaurant was closed Saturday afternoon. The second is Gusto restaurant in the Olympic Village.
Two Vancouver restaurants have defied provincial health restrictions on restaurant openings as a result in the spike of COVID-19 cases. One is Corduroy (pictured) which has signs claiming sovereign citizen rights posted in its doorway, although the restaurant was closed Saturday afternoon. The second is Gusto restaurant in the Olympic Village. Photo by Jason Payne /PNG

The restaurants have left many people on social media angry and confused at the defiance. In response to the crowd of anti-maskers and Corduroy restaurant, one person wrote:

“Thank you so much for doing your part to contribute to the high number of COVID cases in B.C.! Congratulations on extending closure orders due to your selfish and misguided actions of hosting a large gathering and packing your restaurant full of people.”

Vancouver police spokesperson Const. Tania Visintin says police attended Corduroy on Saturday night after receiving several complaints.

Visintin said the Provincial Health Officer has issued a full closure to the restaurant, but no arrests or tickets were issued by police on Saturday.

“The provincial health authorities will seek further action as they see fit. We will continue to assist under their direction,” Visintin said in an emailed statement.

A video posted to Facebook shows health inspectors presenting Matthews with notices inside her restaurant on Saturday night.

In the clip, which has more than 1,000 shares, Matthews accuses the officials of trespassing while they are serenaded with chants of “get out” by a throng of maskless patrons.

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On its Instagram account Sunday morning, Corduroy said it has “sold out of food” and would close for two days over Easter but vowed to reopen on Tuesday at 4 p.m. despite the shutdown order.

Details on enforcement of the orders can be found on the B.C. government website.

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  1. File photo of the Spirit of Vancouver Island.

    B.C. ferry returns to dock after ‘belligerent’ anti-masker raises a fuss

  2. University of B.C. epidemiologist Daniel Coombs.

    COVID-19: Variants continue to rise, and renewed restrictions aren’t likely to stop spread, say experts

— With files from Canadian Press, Ian Mulgrew

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CANADA STOCKS – TSX falls 0.14% to 19,201.28

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* The Toronto Stock Exchange’s TSX falls 0.14 percent to 19,201.28

* Leading the index were Stantec Inc <STN.TO​>, up 3.4%, Imperial Oil Ltd​, up 3.3%, and Corus Entertainment Inc​, higher by 2.9%.

* Lagging shares were Aphria Inc​​, down 14.2%, Village Farms International Inc​, down 9.9%, and Aurora Cannabis Inc​, lower by 9.4%.

* On the TSX 91 issues rose and 134 fell as a 0.7-to-1 ratio favored decliners. There were 24 new highs and no new lows, with total volume of 228.0 million shares.

* The most heavily traded shares by volume were Toronto-dominion Bank, Royal Bank Of Canada and Suncor Energy Inc.

* The TSX’s energy group fell 0.32 points, or 0.3%, while the financials sector climbed 2.46 points, or 0.7%.

* West Texas Intermediate crude futures rose 0.52%, or $0.31, to $59.63 a barrel. Brent crude  rose 0.4%, or $0.25, to $63.2 [O/R]

* The TSX is up 10.1% for the year.

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Air Canada signs C$5.9 billion government aid package, agrees to buy Airbus, Boeing jets

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By David Ljunggren and Allison Lampert

OTTAWA/MONTREAL (Reuters) -Air Canada, struggling with a collapse in traffic due to the COVID-19 pandemic, reached a deal on Monday on a long-awaited aid package with the federal government that would allow it to access up to C$5.9 billion ($4.69 billion) in funds.

The agreement – the largest individual coronavirus-related loan that Ottawa has arranged with a company – was announced after the airline industry criticized Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government for dawdling. The United States and France acted much more quickly to help major carriers.

Canada‘s largest carrier, which last year cut over half its workforce, or 20,000 jobs, and other airlines have been negotiating with the government for months on a coronavirus aid package.

In February, Air Canada reported a net loss for 2020 of C$4.65 billion, compared with a 2019 profit of C$1.48 billion.

As part of the deal, Air Canada agreed to ban share buybacks and dividends, cap annual compensation for senior executives at C$1 million a year and preserve jobs at the current level, which is 14,859.

It will also proceed with planned purchases of 33 Airbus SE 220 airliners and 40 Boeing Co 737 MAX airliners.

Chris Murray, managing director, equity research at ATB Capital Markets, said the deal took into account the “specific needs of Air Canada in the short and medium term without being overly onerous.”

He added: “It gives them some flexibility in drawing down additional liquidity as needed.”

Transport Minister Omar Alghabra said the government was still in negotiations with other airlines about possible aid.

Canada, the world’s second-largest nation by area, depends heavily on civil aviation to keep remote communities connected.

Opposition politicians fretted that further delays in announcing aid could result in permanent damage to the country.

Air Canada said it would resume services on nearly all of the routes it had suspended because of COVID-19.

‘SIGNIFICANT LAYER OF INSURANCE’

The deal removes a potential political challenge for the Liberals, who insiders say are set to trigger an election later this year.

The government has agreed to buy C$500 million worth of shares in the airline, at C$23.1793 each, or a 14.2% discount to Monday’s close, a roughly 6% stake.

“Maintaining a competitive airline sector and good jobs is crucially important,” Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland told reporters, adding the equity stake would allow taxpayers to benefit when the airline’s fortunes recovered.

The Canadian government previously approved similar loans for four other companies worth up to C$1.billion, including up to C$375 million to low-cost airline Sunwing Vacations Inc. The government has paid out C$73.47 billion under its wage subsidy program and C$46.11 billion in loans to hard-hit small businesses.

Michael Rousseau, Air Canada‘s president and chief executive officer, said the liquidity “provides a significant layer of insurance for Air Canada.”

Jerry Dias, head of the Unifor private-sector union, described the announcement as “a good deal for everybody.”

Unifor represents more than 16,000 members working in the air transportation sector.

But the Canadian Union of Public Employees, which represents roughly 10,000 Air Canada flight attendants, said the package protected the jobs of current workers rather than the 7,500 members of its union who had been let go by the carrier.

($1=1.2567 Canadian dollars)

(Reporting by David Ljunggren in Ottawa and Allison Lampert in Montreal; Additional reporting by Julie Gordon in Ottawa and Munsif Vengattil in Bengaluru; Editing by Dan Grebler and Peter Cooney)

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U.K. advises limiting AstraZeneca in under-30s amid clot worry

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LONDON —
British authorities recommended Wednesday that the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine not be given to adults under 30 where possible because of strengthening evidence that the shot may be linked to rare blood clots.

The recommendation came as regulators both in the United Kingdom and the European Union emphasized that the benefits of receiving the vaccine continue to outweigh the risks for most people — even though the European Medicines Agency said it had found a “possible link” between the shot and the rare clots. British authorities recommended that people under 30 be offered alternatives to AstraZeneca. But the EMA advised no such age restrictions, leaving it up to its member-countries to decide whether to limit its use.

Several countries have already imposed limits on who can receive the vaccine, and any restrictions are closely watched since the vaccine, which is cheaper and easier to store than many others, is critical to global immunization campaigns and is a pillar of the UN-backed program known as COVAX that aims to get vaccines to some of the world’s poorest countries.

“This is a course correction, there’s no question about that,” Jonathan Van-Tam, England’s deputy chief medical officer, said during a press briefing. “But it is, in a sense, in medicine quite normal for physicians to alter their preferences for how patients are treated over time.”

Van-Tam said the effect on Britain’s vaccination timetable — one of the speediest in the world — should be “zero or negligible,” assuming the National Health Service receives expected deliveries of other vaccines, including those produced by Pfizer and Moderna.

EU and U.K. regulators held simultaneous press conferences Wednesday afternoon to announce the results of investigations into reports of blood clots that sparked concern about the rollout of the AstraZeneca vaccine.

The EU agency described the clots as “very rare” side effects. Dr Sabine Straus, chair of EMA’s Safety Committee, said the best data is coming from Germany where there is one report of the rare clots for every 100,000 doses given, although she noted far fewer reports in the U.K. Still, that’s less than the clot risk that healthy women face from birth control pills, noted another expert, Dr. Peter Arlett.

The agency said most of the cases reported have occurred in women under 60 within two weeks of vaccination — but based on the currently available evidence, it was not able to identify specific risk factors. Experts reviewed several dozen cases that came mainly from Europe and the U.K., where around 25 million people have received the AstraZeneca vaccine.

“The reported cases of unusual blood clotting following vaccination with the AstraZeneca vaccine should be listed as possible side effects of the vaccine,” said Emer Cooke, the agency’s executive director. “The risk of mortality from COVID is much greater than the risk of mortality from these side effects.”

Arlett said there is no information suggesting an increased risk from the other major COVID-19 vaccines.

The EMA’s investigation focused on unusual types of blood clots that are occurring along with low blood platelets. One rare clot type appears in multiple blood vessels and the other in veins that drain blood from the brain.

While the benefits of the vaccine still outweigh the risks, that assessment is “more finely balanced” among younger people who are less likely to become seriously ill with COVID-19, the U.K’s Van-Tam said.

“We are not advising a stop to any vaccination for any individual in any age group,” said Wei Shen Lim, who chairs Britain’s Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunization. “We are advising a preference for one vaccine over another vaccine for a particular age group, really out of the utmost caution rather than because we have any serious safety concerns.”

In March, more than a dozen countries, mostly in Europe, suspended their use of AstraZeneca over the blood clot issue. Most restarted — some with age restrictions — after the EMA said countries should continue using the potentially life-saving vaccine.

Britain, which relies heavily on AstraZeneca, however, continued to use it.

The suspensions were seen as particularly damaging for AstraZeneca because they came after repeated missteps in how the company reported data on the vaccine’s effectiveness and concerns over how well its shot worked in older people. That has led to frequently changing advice in some countries on who can take the vaccine, raising worries that AstraZeneca’s credibility could be permanently damaged, spurring more vaccine hesitancy and prolonging the pandemic.

Dr. Peter English, who formerly chaired the British Medical Association’s Public Health Medicine Committee, said the back-and-forth over the AstraZeneca vaccine globally could have serious consequences.

“We can’t afford not to use this vaccine if we are going to end the pandemic,” he said.

In some countries, authorities have already noted hesitance toward the AstraZeneca shot.

“People come and they are reluctant to take the AstraZeneca vaccine, they ask us if we also use anything else,” said Florentina Nastase, a doctor and co-ordinator at a vaccination centre in Bucharest, Romania. “There were cases in which people (scheduled for the AstraZeneca) didn’t show up, there were cases when people came to the centre and saw that we use only AstraZeneca and refused (to be inoculated).”

Meanwhile, the governor of Italy’s northern Veneto region had said earlier Wednesday that any decision to change the guidance on AstraZeneca would cause major disruptions to immunizations — at a time when Europe is already struggling to ramp them up — and could create more confusion about the shot.

“If they do like Germany, and allow Astra Zeneca only to people over 65, that would be absurd. Before it was only for people under 55. Put yourself in the place of citizens, it is hard to understand anything,” Luca Zaia told reporters.

The latest suspension of AstraZeneca came in Spain’s Castilla y Leon region, where health chief Veronica Casado said Wednesday that “the principle of prudence” drove her to put a temporary hold on the vaccine that she still backed as being both effective and necessary.

French health authorities had said they, too, were awaiting EMA’s conclusions, as were some officials in Asia.

On Wednesday, South Korea said it would temporarily suspend the use of AstraZeneca’s vaccine in people 60 and younger. In that age group, the country is only currently vaccinating health workers and people in long-term care settings.

The Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency said it would also pause a vaccine rollout to school nurses and teachers that was to begin on Thursday, while awaiting the outcome of the EMA’s review.

But some experts urged perspective. Prof Anthony Harnden, the deputy chair of Britain’s vaccination committee, said that the program has saved at least 6,000 lives in the first three months and will help pave the way back to normal life.

“What is clear it that for the vast majority of people the benefits of the Oxford AZ vaccine far outweigh any extremely small risk,” he said. “And the Oxford AZ vaccine will continue to save many from suffering the devastating effects that can result from a COVID infection.”

Source: – CTV News

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