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No masks, distancing required: Excitement, trepidation as Saskatchewan fully reopens – Red Deer Advocate

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REGINA — People are excited but also admitting to trepidation as Saskatchewan becomes the second province to lift its remaining COVID-19 public health restrictions.

As of Sunday, masks and physical distancing are not required, and there are no longer capacity limits on gatherings.

Abigail Bissy-Aluko is an event planner in Saskatoon. She says the full reopening will be good for her business

“We’re looking forward to celebrating with our clients and getting back to work fully,” she said in an interview. “It looks like there’s more hope. I don’t think we’ll be going back to another lockdown, hopefully.”

Bissy-Aluko said her phone has been ringing non-stop with clients wanting to check what dates and venues are available.

“A lot of people are doing birthdays,” she said. “There’s a lot of birthdays and a few weddings here and there.

“And the reason for the spike in birthdays is because most people who had planned a memorable year — like a 30th or 50th — last year postponed it to this year to celebrate.”

Bissy-Aluko said people are excited about meeting with friends and family, but added most of her clients are still taking a cautious approach.

Outdoor venues have been especially popular this summer, she said, because many people don’t feel ready to be part of an unmasked indoor crowd just yet.

Bissy-Aluko herself is feeling “a bit skeptical” about some parts of the reopening.

“I’m hoping we don’t see more cases as a result of people not wearing masks anymore in public,” she said. “We’re definitely trying to still be safe and follow COVID guidelines, but still be able to party and have fun.”

Safety is also top of mind for Tracy Zambory, president of the Saskatchewan Union of Nurses. The pandemic continues to wear on nurses, she said.

“The members we’ve talked to, they’re exhausted,” she said. “They’re full of anxiety. And they’re really worried about what the future is going to look like.”

Zambory said union members have mixed feelings about removing all of Saskatchewan’s public health restrictions at this point.

“We understand completely the need for people to get back to some sort of normalcy. It’s been a long, long journey through COVID, but we know that we have to urge caution. We can’t just base everything on a vaccination rollout.”

But at the final scheduled COVID-19 briefing on Thursday, Premier Scott Moe said the province is relying on vaccines as a first line of defence. He said falling case numbers mean Saskatchewan is in “a very good place.”

Zambory is worried about the spread of variants and how the number of first doses of vaccines has plateaued. She hopes the province won’t hesitate to bring back restrictions if they’re needed.

“Registered nurses have the lived experience from the beginning of this pandemic,” she said. “We’ve been there every day since the inception. And we don’t care to relive (the days) when the numbers were almost hitting 500 cases a day and we had to bypass intensive care units because they were so full.

“The hope is that … if we start to see an increase in our hospitalizations, the voices of the science and health-care professionals would be heard.”

Saskatchewan cities are revising their guidelines in light of the provincial reopening. In Saskatoon, while masks and physical distancing will no longer be required for most city employees, facilities will keep vinyl and Plexiglas shields in place and do extra cleaning.

The City of Regina will also keep up enhanced sanitation and is encouraging residents to use contactless payment methods rather than cash wherever they can.

On Canada Day, Alberta became the first province to fully reopen.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 11, 2021.

Julia Peterson, The Canadian Press

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Ottawa Public Health will take vaccines to businesses and groups to increase coverage – Ottawa Citizen

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Community organizations, faith leaders and employers who have a group of people who may benefit from a mobile clinic are asked to contact OPH at 613-691-5505.

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In an effort to reach people who have not yet been vaccinated against COVID-19, Ottawa Public Health is preparing to send mobile vaccination teams to workplaces, places of worship and community groups on request.

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The program is intended to help reduce barriers for people who have not yet received the vaccine “by working with community leaders to provide comfortable, convenient and easily accessible options for vaccination,” the city said in a release. “This is just one more initiative to help ensure that anyone 12 years of age and older in Ottawa who wants the COVID-19 vaccine can get vaccinated.”

Sixty-six per cent of Ottawa residents over the age of 12 are now fully vaccinated and 83 per cent have received at least one dose.

But the province’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Kieran Moore, said this week that the more transmissible Delta variant will continue to threaten the province until 90 per cent of eligible residents are fully vaccinated.

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While Ottawa leads the province when it comes to vaccination rates of teens between 12 and 17, many health experts have said the final 10-20 per cent of the population will be the hardest to vaccinate because of barriers and hesitancy.

The Ottawa mobile vaccination program announced Thursday aims to address that.

Community organizations, faith leaders and employers who have a group of people who may benefit from a mobile clinic are asked to contact OPH at 613-691-5505.

There are still many appointments available through the provincial booking site (https://covid-19.ontario.ca/book-vaccine/ ) for anyone who wants a vaccine. Many pharmacies and family physicians also have vaccines available.

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B.C. sees highest number of COVID-19 cases in a month – The Globe and Mail

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British Columbia’s COVID-19 cases are creeping up again with the province reporting the highest numbers in a month.

Health officials reported 89 cases of COVID-19 Thursday, figures last seen in mid-June.

In a news release, officials say the total number of active infections in B.C. is 781 and there have been no new deaths.

There are 53 people are in hospital with 15 in intensive care.

Health officials say there are two outbreaks in the Fraser Health region, in an acute care facility and a long-term home.

Officials say more than 80 per cent of those eligible have received their first vaccine dose, while 57 per cent are fully vaccinated.

Our Morning Update and Evening Update newsletters are written by Globe editors, giving you a concise summary of the day’s most important headlines. Sign up today.

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Vancouver Islands adds 3 new COVID-19 cases | CTV News – CTV News VI

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VICTORIA —
B.C. health officials have identified three new cases of COVID-19 in the Vancouver Island region Thursday.

The cases were among 89 new cases found across the province over the past 24 hours.

There are currently 781 active cases of COVID-19 across the province, including 18 active cases in the Island Health region, according to the Ministry of Health.

Island Health identified the locations of 17 active cases Thursday, including 12 in the South Island, three in the Central Island and two in the North Island.

Since the pandemic began, 148,730 cases of COVID-19 have been reported across the province, including 5,203 found in the Vancouver Island region.

No new deaths related to the disease were reported in B.C. over the past 24 hours.

Since the pandemic began, 1,763 people have died of COVID-19 in B.C., including 41 people in the Island Health region.

According to the B.C. Centre for Disease Control, there are currently two people in hospital for treatment of the disease in the Island Health region, but no one in critical care.

As of Thursday, 80.2 per cent of people aged 12 and older had received their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine in B.C., while 56.9 per cent of eligible people had received two doses.

In total, B.C. has administered 6,361,627 doses of COVID-19 vaccine.

Earlier Thursday, Island Health announced that a new “Vax Van” would be making stops across the island to offer first-dose vaccinations.

Details on the Vax Van, including its upcoming schedule, can be found here.

Backstory:

CTV News Vancouver Island reports the daily COVID-19 case counts as reported by provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix, which are based on BCCDC data. There may be a discrepancy between the daily case counts reported by the BCCDC and Island Health.

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