There won’t be any in-person bargain-hunting taking place in Ontario this Boxing Day.
When resident across the province wake up Saturday morning, they will find themselves under a provincially-ordered lockdown brought in to try curb the runaway spread of COVID-19.
While Toronto, Peel Region, York Region, and other areas are already under lockdown, the province-wide order takes effect at 12:01 a.m. on Dec. 26.
The lockdown means the closure of all but a handful of businesses. Those deemed essential such as grocery stores and pharmacies will be allowed to stay open with capacity restrictions, but gyms, movie theatres and just about every other type pf indoor business will have to close.
Stores and restaurants will still be allowed to offer curbside pickup and delivery.
Capacity restrictions will be tightened to 25 per cent per room at discount and big box retailers that sell food and are allowed to be open.
The new provincial lockdown comes as runaway community spread threatens to overwhelm hospital Intensive Care Units.
Earlier this month, hospitals in the province were told to prepare surge capacity plans in anticipation of an influx of COVID-19 patients.
Health officials have warned that serious surgeries and treatments – such as those for cancer, heart problems and other conditions – could be delayed if hospital ICU’s are overwhelmed by COVID-19 patients.
Despite pleas from elected officials and public health professionals, data have shown that people have not been staying home as much as they did during the restrictions in the spring
Ontario has been smashing through successive daily case records in recent weeks. While no numbers were reported by the province on Christmas, Ontario set a new daily record of 2,447 cases on Christmas Eve.
Despite promises that an “iron ring” would been extended around long-term care homes following the first wave in the spring, the virus has returned to long-term care homes with devastating effect in recent months.
As of Thursday, there were outbreaks at 162 long-term care homes in Ontario, meaning more than 25 per cent of all homes in the province are currently experiencing an outbreak.
The number of cases in schools was also climbing rapidly prior to winter break, forcing the province to implement a lengthened break from in-person learning. Elementary students in the province will learn virtually from Jan 4-8, while secondary students will learn virtually until returning to in-person instruction on Jan. 25.
Outbreaks among essential workers such as firefighters have also caused concern about a possible strain on essential services.
The lockdown will be in effect for the entire province until Jan. 9. After that, lockdown restrictions will continue for all 27 public health units in Southern Ontario until Jan. 23.
Trudeau speaks to Pfizer CEO as delays to vaccine shipments get worse – BNN
OTTAWA – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau spoke to Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla by phone Thursday, the same day the company informed Canada delays to its shipments of COVID-19 vaccines are going to be even worse than previously thought.
Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, the military commander now overseeing the vaccine logistics for the Public Health Agency of Canada, said last week a factory expansion at Pfizer’s Belgium plant was going to slow production, cutting Canada’s deliveries over four weeks in half.
In exchange, Pfizer expects to be able to ship hundreds of millions more doses worldwide over the rest of 2021.
Tuesday, Fortin said Canada would receive 80 per cent of the previously expected doses this week, nothing at all next week, and about half the promised deliveries in the first two weeks of February.
Today, I spoke with the CEO of Pfizer Global, Dr. Bourla, about the timely delivery of COVID-19 vaccines to Canada. He assured me that we’ll receive 4 million doses by the end of March. We’ll keep working together to ensure Canadians can get a vaccine as soon as possible.
— Justin Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau) January 22, 2021
Thursday, he said the doses delivered in the first week of February will only be 79,000, one one-fifth of what was once expected. Fortin doesn’t know yet what will come the week after, but overall, Canada’s doses over three weeks are going to be just one-third of what had been planned.
Trudeau has been under pressure to call Bourla, as the delayed doses force provinces to cancel vaccination appointments and reconsider timing for second doses.
Fortin said some provinces may be hit even harder than others because of limits on the way the Pfizer doses can be split up for shipping. The vaccine is delicate and must be kept ultra frozen until shortly before injecting it. The company packs and ships specialized coolers, with GPS thermal trackers, directly to provincial vaccine sites.
Ontario Premier Doug Ford said earlier this week he doesn’t blame the federal government for the dose delays but wanted Trudeau to do more to push back about it.
“If I was in (Trudeau’s) shoes … I’d be on that phone call every single day. I’d be up that guy’s yin-yang so far with a firecracker he wouldn’t know what hit him,” he said of Pfizer’s executives.
Trudeau informed Ford and other premiers of the call with Bourla during a regular teleconference to discuss the COVID-19 pandemic. Until Thursday, all calls between the federal cabinet and Pfizer had been handled by Procurement Minister Anita Anand.
Ford also spoke to Pfizer Canada CEO Cole Pinnow Wednesday.
Trudeau didn’t suggest the call with Bourla made any difference to the delays, and noted Canada is not the only country affected.
Europe, which on the weekend thought its delayed doses would only be for one week after European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen spoke to Bourla, now seems poised to be affected longer. Italy is so angry it is threatening to sue the U.S.-based drugmaker for the delays.
Mexico said this week it is only getting half its expected shipment this week and nothing at all for the next three weeks. Saudi Arabia and Bahrain also reported delays getting doses. Pfizer Canada spokeswoman Christina Antoniou said more countries were affected but wouldn’t say which ones.
Fortin said Pfizer has promised to deliver four million doses to Canada by the end of March and that is not going to change with the delay. With the current known delivery schedule, the company will have to ship more than 3.1 million doses over 7 1/2 weeks to meet that commitment.
Deliveries from Moderna, the other company that has a COVID-19 vaccine approved for use in Canada, are not affected. Canada has received about 176,000 doses from Moderna to date, with deliveries arriving every three weeks.
Moderna has promised two million doses by the end of March.
Both vaccines require first doses and then boosters several weeks later for full effectiveness. Together Pfizer and Moderna intend to ship 20 million doses to Canada in the spring, and 46 million between July and September. With no other vaccines approved, that means Canada will get enough doses to vaccinate the entire population with two doses by the end of September.
Godiva closing 128 stores in North America, including all 11 in Canada – CBC.ca
COVID-19 has been far from sweet for Godiva, which has decided to sell or close its stores across North America.
The luxury chocolatier says 128 brick and mortar locations, including 11 in Canada, will shut by the end of March.
The chain has 4 locations in Toronto, one in nearby Mississauga, and two in Ottawa. It also has two in the Vancouver area, one in Winnipeg, and one near Montreal.
The company declined to say how many jobs will be affected by the decision.
Godiva will maintain retail operations across Europe, the Middle East and China.
The closures mark a reversal from its strategy announced in 2019 to open 2,000 cafe locations worldwide, including more than 400 in North America.
It says a key part of its moves has been to focus on retail food and pharmacy locations as well as online.
It noted that in-person shopping at its own stores has waned because of the pandemic and changes in consumer shopping behaviour.
“Godiva is already available in many retailers in North America and we will continue to increase our presence there while always upholding the premium quality, taste, and innovation that we have been renowned for since we were founded in Brussels in 1926,” stated CEO Nurtac Afridi.
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