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Paramount Foods CEO urges province to bring back indoor dining after data shows majority of outbreaks are not in restaurants – CP24 Toronto's Breaking News



The owner of a well-known Middle Eastern food chain is demanding the Ontario government to reverse its decision and allow dine-in services in some hot spots after provincial data revealed that the majority of outbreaks in those areas are not linked to restaurants and bars.

On Thursday, the Ford government’s official modelling table provided three different scenarios for the second wave of COVID-19 in the province.

The report included data regarding the source of outbreaks in the four regions under a modified version of Stage 2.

Ontario government banned indoor dining and closed facilities like gyms and movie theatres in Toronto, Ottawa, Peel, and York earlier this month to curb the spread of COVID-19.

However, according to the data released on Thursday, restaurants and bars in Ottawa, Peel and York only accounted for two per cent, three per cent, and eight per cent of all outbreaks in their areas, respectively, between August and October.

In Toronto, 14 per cent of outbreaks were traced back to restaurants, bars, and clubs. Gyms and sports only accounted for three per cent of outbreaks in the city.

During that period, most outbreaks were reported in schools, child-care centres, and long-term care homes.

Source of outbreaks

Speaking to CP24 on Thursday night, Paramount Fine Foods CEO Mohamad Fakih said he is shocked to find out about the data, saying that many restaurants agreed to comply with restrictions, not only because owners want Ontarians to be safe, but also because many trusted that officials are making decisions based on the numbers.

“It makes me wonder if the Ontario government has any idea what it’s doing. We were promised a data-based approach,” Fakih said.

“Let’s fix what we’ve done wrong, so reopen the dine-in immediately.”

He said it is unbelievable that they shut down restaurants in places like Peel and Ottawa even though those establishments were not the problem.

“The provincial government needs to start doing a better job tailoring the closures to where cases are actually coming from. Surely that should be the whole point of restrictions,” Fakih said.

“Destroying people’s businesses, taking away that livelihood and killing their jobs is exactly the opposite of looking after the little guy, no matter what the premier says.”

When asked why restaurants and bars were closed in those four regions, health officials said those establishments are considered “social settings.”

“We were picking those settings where it’s indoors, where people are unable to mask for long periods of time,” Ontario Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Williams said.

Williams added that facilities such as schools and long-term care homes have “proper steps and (personal protective equipment) in place.”

Adalsteinn Brown, the co-chair of the Ontario COVID-19 Science Advisory Table, said the data is “complicated.”

“The variation in the source of outbreaks across those four public health units that had restrictions reasonably showing us that there’s not one consistent pattern,” Brown said.

“There’s often concern that we need to wait to see outbreaks in a particular public health unit before instituting restrictions. That would be akin to waiting to close the barn door until after the horses left.”

Meanwhile, Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown said the data confirms what he’s been saying for quite some time that restaurants are not the source of COVID-19 spread.

“Restaurants were doing their job. They were following the advice of public health,” Brown said in an interview with CP24.

While the provincial data suggests that only three percent of outbreaks in Peel were traced back to the hospitality industry, Brown said the region’s medical officer of health, Dr. Lawrence Loh, informed him that there hadn’t been a single case in a restaurant setting.

The mayor said it shows that the data does not support tightening restrictions in restaurants and bars especially in his region.

“I do hope that once this 28-day period is over, that we can get these small businesses back and open,” Brown said. “Small businesses are the lifeblood of our economy, and our restaurants are really hurting right now.”

Peel was moved back to Stage 2 because there were concerns that Toronto residents would dine in the region, but Brown said the province could have been more surgical.

“If the data supports it, then yes, shut it down. But in the case of restaurants and recreation, it really wasn’t supported by data,” the mayor said.

“The spring was disastrous, and I was worried we’re going to see businesses go under if we don’t give them a plan to reopen.”

Brown hopes the province will give restaurants a blessing to reopen soon.

“I really believe that when there’s a will, there’s a way. And if it’s earlier closing hours, smaller capacity, we can do it. We can reopen these safely,” he said.

– with files from CTV Toronto’s Katherine DeClerq

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ICU admissions near 100 in Alberta, 1,608 new COVID-19 cases – Calgary Herald



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The current outbreak at Clifton Manor, in southeast Calgary, has had 41 positive cases, 39 of which are active, with one recovery and one death. This is the second outbreak at Clifton Manor. The first resulted in seven deaths and 38 recoveries.

The Clifton Manor long-term care home in Calgary’s southeast, as seen on Wednesday, April 29, 2020. Photo by Brendan Miller/Postmedia

Hundreds of anti-maskers rally in Calgary

Saturday’s anti-mask protest of approximately 1,000 people in front of city hall was led by a group called Walk for Freedom, which said on social media it was rallying to “protect our Charter rights.”

On Friday, Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi called anti-mask rallies “illegal” due to provincial limits on outdoor gatherings.

New provincial rules introduced Tuesday restrict outdoor gatherings to a maximum of 10 people and many municipalities, including Calgary, have bylaws making the use of face coverings mandatory in many settings, though they aren’t required outdoors.

“Of course, police will always use their discretion in cases like this. They don’t want the enforcement to cause more danger for people,” Nenshi said. “Whether you agree or disagree, it is your right to assemble peacefully, however right now the law says you can only assemble in a group of 10.”

The same day, Alberta Justice Minister Kaycee Madu said the province expected enforcement of COVID-19 public-health orders to ramp up, granting 700 additional peace officers across the province the powers to issue fines starting at $1,000 for egregious violations.

“As minister of justice, my expectation is that those who are in violation of the measures that we have put in place would have to be held accountable,” Madu said.

Shawn Rupchan with the Calgary Police Service said there wasn’t enforcement at the rally itself but there could be something on followup.

— With files from Jason Herring
Twitter: @BabychStephanie

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Everything you need to know about COVID-19 in Alberta on Sunday, Nov. 29 –



The latest:

  • Alberta reported 1,608 new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday, the second-highest number reported so far — bringing the province to 15,692 active cases.
  • The province set a record on Saturday with 1,731 new cases.
  • Nine more people have died, for a total of 533 deaths.
  • There are 435 people in hospital, 95 in ICU.
  • Audio recordings of daily planning meetings obtained by CBC News as well as meeting minutes and interviews with staff involved in pandemic planning give a rare look at the push-and-pull of the COVID-19 response in Alberta.
  • But Alberta’s top doctor called the secret recordings of the pandemic meetings a betrayal of trust and said there will be an investigation.
  • The City of Calgary declared a local state of emergency as of 1:31 p.m. Wednesday, saying it supported the tougher restrictions imposed by the Alberta government on Tuesday. Mayor Naheed Nenshi said the local state of emergency would let the city move quicker to respond to COVID-19.
  • Calgary will not be immediately imposing new restrictions of its own, but the move will allow the city to move quickly to procure supplies, deal with vulnerable Calgarians and access funds from other levels of government.
  • Alberta Premier Jason Kenney declared a state of public health emergency on Tuesday afternoon, along with a slate of new restrictions that will remain in place for at least three weeks.
  • Peace officers or police can fine people who break restrictions $1,000 per ticketed offence and up to $100,000 through the courts.
  • Alberta Health plans to make available more than 2,000 acute-care beds and up to 400 ICU beds for patients with COVID-19 across the province in the coming weeks.
  • In response to the pandemic, Calgary will offer 15 minutes of free on-street parking in Business Improvement Areas and Business Revitalization Zones from Nov. 27 until Feb. 1, 2021. 
  • The Town of Banff declared a local state of emergency on Wednesday night. AHS numbers indicate 153 active cases in the Banff National Park region as of Wednesday. Plans are in the works to set up a new testing facility in the mountain town.

What you need to know today in Alberta

Alberta reported 1,608 new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday, the second-highest total in the province since the pandemic began.

The number came after Alberta set yet another record high number of daily new cases on Saturday — 1,731.

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health said Thursday that she feels personally betrayed after CBC News reported the contents of secret recordings that revealed disagreements and, at times, political interference in the province’s pandemic response.

“I am profoundly disappointed that confidential internal conversations have been shared, actions that are a violation of the public service oath and code of conduct,” Dr. Deena Hinshaw told a news conference. 

“This is a personal betrayal and a betrayal of the trust that our hardworking team has placed in each other,” she said. There will be an internal investigation to try to determine who leaked the recordings, Hinshaw said.

Doctors in the Edmonton zone of Alberta Health Services are setting up their own pandemic response committee to advise the public and comment on policy set by the province to combat the spread of COVID-19. 

The Strategic COVID-19 Pandemic Committee will be co-chaired by Dr. James Talbot, Alberta’s former chief medical officer of health, and Dr. Noel Gibney, an intensive care physician and professor emeritus at the University of Alberta. 

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney made his first public appearance since Nov. 12 on Tuesday, after quarantining due to a COVID-19 exposure for the second time, to announce that the province is once again under a state of public health emergency. 

He announced a number of new mandatory restrictions that will remain in place for three weeks in an effort to slow the exponential spread of COVID-19 across the province. 

  • The new restrictions include:
    • Indoor social gatherings: No indoor social gatherings allowed in any setting (private homes, public spaces or workplaces). Indoor close contacts must be limited to people in the same household. It doesn’t apply to service visits from caregivers, health or child care providers and co-parenting arrangements. People who live alone can have up to the same two non-household contacts throughout the restricted time. Work and support group meetings aren’t considered social gatherings but must follow public health measures and limit attendance.
    • Outdoor social gatherings: Outdoor social gatherings are limited to 10 people. Movement in and out of homes aren’t permitted at backyard gatherings. Every must remain distanced and follow public health measures. Festivals and events are banned.
    • The gathering restrictions don’t impact support groups like Alcoholics Anonymous, which associate minister of mental health and addictions Jason Luan said are considered essential services. Members of those groups will still need to adhere to physical distancing and masking where applicable. 
    • Schools: Beginning Nov. 30, all students in Grades 7-12 will immediately move to online learning until they begin their winter break. Staff at the Calgary Board of Education and the Calgary Catholic School District will continue to work in-person at schools. Grades K-6 will continue in-person learning until their scheduled winter break (generally Dec. 18). In-person learning for all students will be delayed a week until Jan. 11. 
    • Weddings and funerals: Maximum of 10 people for wedding ceremonies or funeral services.
    • Places of worship: Faith-based groups can operate with mandatory reduced capacity, of one-third of the building’s occupancy. Mask use is mandatory. This is only in effect in regions with enhanced status on the province’s COVID-19 map. 
    • Working from home: All businesses are encouraged to have employees work from home as much as possible. Kenney said that would include provincial government employees.
    • Businesses that must close include banquet halls, conference centres, trade shows, auditoriums and concert venues, community centres, children’s play places and indoor playgrounds. Sports are also included in this category.
    • Food and beverage: Restaurants, bars, pubs and lounges will be open. Tables can seat a maximum of six people from the same household, while people who live alone can meet with up to two non-household contacts who are part of their cohort. Last call will continue to be at 10 p.m. and licensed food-serving establishments must close at 11.
    • Businesses that can remain open with restrictions include most retail businesses, with capacity limited to 25 per cent of fire code occupancy. That includes liquor and cannabis shops, grocery stores, pharmacies, clothing stores, computer and technology stores, hardware, automotive and approved farmers and seasonal markets. Also included are movie theatres, museums and galleries, libraries, casinos (though table games must close) and indoor entertainment centres.
    • Masks in indoor workplaces: Masks are mandatory in all indoor workplaces in the Calgary and Edmonton areas, except when working alone in an office or a safely distanced cubicle or an appropriate barrier is in place. This does not change current student mask requirements in schools
    • Fitness and recreation centres can operate with reduced capacity, but only for individual workouts, with no group fitness, group classes, group training, team practices or games.
    • A full list of the new restrictions is available on the province’s website
  • WATCH | Alberta Premier Jason Kenney discuss the new restrictions

Alberta rolled out new restrictions on Tuesday that prohibit all social gatherings in people’s homes and make masks mandatory for all indoor workplaces in the province’s two largest cities. 3:57

“We are not involved in a chase after zero,” he said — saying the measures are intended to give the health-care system capacity to respond. 

He said the restrictions would be evaluated on Dec. 15, and that stricter measures could be imposed if conditions do not improve. Breaking restrictions could result in $1,000 fines.

“If we do not slow the sharp rise of both hospitalizations and ICU admissions, they will threaten our ability to continue delivering health services that we all rely on,” Kenney said. 

Kenney said social gatherings are the largest source of transmission in the province and that the risk of transmission in restaurants is lower than at home. However, he did not share what percentage of transmissions are linked to social gatherings — according the Alberta Health, 85 per cent of cases have an unknown source of transmission. 

Effective Wednesday, AHS has changed visitation rules for acute-care hospitals with outbreaks, and for communities that are under enhanced status. The changes are:

  • For patients admitted to hospital and in ambulatory care, including emergency departments, only one designated family or support person will be permitted.
  • For maternity and postpartum units, one designated family or support person will be permitted.
  • For pediatrics and NICU, as well as critical care, up to two designated family or support persons are permitted.
  • In end-of-life situations, one designated family or support person is permitted, and the presence of any other visitors must be pre-arranged with the site or unit.

There are more than 5,700 active cases in Calgary and more than 7,200 active cases in Edmonton

The past week has set multiple records for Alberta, which only surpassed 1,000 daily new cases for the first time on Nov. 14. The province’s deadliest day was last Monday, when 20 more deaths were reported. It also surpassed 10,000 active cases for the first time — the number of active cases now sits at 15,692.

Thousands of Albertans caught in a COVID-19 contact tracing backlog will no longer have their cases investigated. 

The Alberta government had already scaled back contract tracing in the province on Nov. 6, due to the team being overwhelmed, asking positive cases to notify their own close contacts unless they were deemed to be linked to one of the high-priority settings such as hospitals, schools and continuing care homes.

On Monday, the government scaled it back further, saying that starting Tuesday, Alberta Health Services (AHS) was temporarily giving up on investigating contacts for people who received their positive test result more than 10 days ago. There are currently 11,500 people on the waitlist and that means about 3,000 people won’t get contact tracing calls as tracers prioritize the newest cases, which they say are the most infectious.

Meanwhile, 17 Alberta hospitals are now battling COVID-19 outbreaks.

According to information published by AHS there are more than 160 COVID-19 cases connected to active hospital outbreaks right now, and at least 20 deaths are linked to the outbreaks.

Since last Thursday outbreaks have been declared at health centres in Drumheller, Oyen and Devon, along with Chinook Regional hospital in Lethbridge.

In Calgary, outbreaks at three adult hospitals continue to grow. There are now 21 cases on four units at the Rockyview General. An outbreak has been declared on another unit at the Peter Lougheed hospital, bringing the total there to 18 cases on four units. There have been three deaths linked to that one. The latest Foothills hospital outbreaks are affecting two units. There are now 10 cases there and one person has died.


Meanwhile, Alberta Health Services recently has had to deal with several situations where designated family or support people of patients intentionally didn’t disclose their COVID-19 symptom status.

In one, two health-care workers from the labour and delivery unit at Rockyview General Hospital in Calgary were in isolation Monday after a visitor did not disclose their COVID-19 status during the on-site screening process.

“While the vast majority of Albertans understand that doing this puts loved ones and the teams caring for their loved ones at even greater risk of illness, the few who choose to do this are impacting us all,” Hinshaw said.

“Please be honest. We are dealing with a multiplier effect in Alberta. We cannot afford that in our health-care facilities.”

  • WATCH | What is a circuit-breaker lockdown and does it work?

Speaking Monday, Dr. Deena Hinshaw likened Alberta’s COVID-19 cases to a snowball rolling downhill, growing faster and larger every day. We expect to hear about new restrictions in Alberta on Tuesday morning. 1:31

Calgary Emergency Management Agency deputy Chief Sue Henry has been chosen to replace the outgoing head of the organization. Henry’s current boss, CEMA chief Tom Sampson, announced last month that he would leave the post after 35 years of service with the city.

Calgary police say they’ve been asked 35 times since April to find and transport vulnerable citizens who have tested positive for COVID-19 but have nowhere to self-isolate. They’re taken to a hospital in order to get them off the street. Officers have located all but six of the 35. 

The process is different for those who have the ability to isolate but choose not to. Those individuals can be fined under provincial health orders, and police have issued 38 tickets to those who failed to comply. 

Polls show that Kenney’s handling of the pandemic in the province is getting low marks — and that could be sapping support for the federal Conservative Party.

Since March 2, the Conservatives have slipped only 1.2 percentage points in national support in the CBC’s Poll Tracker. However, the party is down 8.3 points in Alberta, which is significantly more than anywhere else in the country.

The annual Calgary firefighters’ toy event has been cancelled for the first time in 53 years due to new COVID-19 restrictions introduced this week. 

“We had done our best to ensure we had a safe plan for all of our recipients, staff and vendors, but we must understand that this (the virus) is bigger than us,” said Mark Hagel, president of the Calgary Firefighters Toy Association, in a news release. 

Last year, over 4,000 underprivileged children attended the Christmas party put on by the association.

The human toll of the pandemic is getting lost in the numbers, says a friend of Desmond Jarvis Brandon, an Edmonton man who died from a COVID-19 infection earlier this month.

Brandon developed a cough early this month. Less than two weeks later, on Nov. 13, Brandon succumbed to the disease at the University of Alberta Hospital. 

“Desmond was a real person, he was 36 years old. He did not have to die,” said Carl Lovestrom, Brandon’s friend. “I hope this makes it more real for people.” 

Brandon is among seven Albertans under the age of 40 to die of COVID-19 as the death toll in Alberta reached 500.


“Cuffing season” — a trend that’s emerged among singles to find a short-term partner to, in essence, hibernate with through the winter — may be even more intense this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Cuffing season typically begins in October and lingers until mid-February, or when the weather begins to thaw — a stretch of time when people want to be tied down, or cuffed, to another person.

Priti Joshi, vice-president of marketing strategy and operations at dating app Bumble, said that this year, more than 50 per cent of users are motivated to cuff and get cuffed.

“Based off … Bumble’s internal research … we see that more than half of the singles on Bumble this year will prioritize finding a partner in time for the holidays,” Joshi said.

Here is the regional breakdown of active cases reported on Sunday:

  • Calgary zone: 5,756, up from 5,446 reported on Saturday. 
  • Edmonton zone: 7,230, up from 6,968.
  • North zone: 857, up from 802.
  • South zone: 642, up from 627.
  • Central zone: 1,101, up from 992.
  • Unknown: 106, up from 96. 

Find out which neighbourhoods or communities have the most cases, how hard people of different ages have been hit, the ages of people in hospital, how Alberta compares to other provinces and more in: Here are the latest COVID-19 statistics for Alberta — and what they mean

What you need to know today in Canada:

As of 11:20 a.m. ET on Sunday, Canada’s COVID-19 case count stood at 367,913, with 62,650 of those considered active cases. A CBC News tally of deaths based on provincial reports, regional health information and CBC’s reporting stood at 12,012.

A majority of Canadians could be inoculated against COVID-19 by September 2021 “if all goes according to plan,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Friday. Trudeau said it was important the vaccine reaches all Canadians “no matter where they live.”

British Columbia health officials reported a single-day record on Friday with 911 cases of COVID-19. The province will report new numbers on Monday.

Saskatchewan’s health-care system is feeling the strain as COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations rise — and the provincial health authority is warning that some non-essential services are at risk. 

The province reported 179 new cases and one death on Saturday.

Manitoba announced 487 new cases of COVID-19 on Saturday and 10 more deaths.

“We can’t continue with these daily case counts,” said Dr. Brent Roussin. “We can’t continue to list off this many Manitobans lost daily.”

Ontario added another 1,708 cases of COVID-19 to its total on Sunday, along with 24 deaths.

Quebec reported 1,395 new cases on Sunday and 12 deaths from COVID-19. The province had set a new single-day record with 1,480 new infections on Saturday as the provincial death toll crossed the 7,000 threshold.

In Atlantic Canada, New Brunswick reported 12 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday, while Newfoundland and Labrador reported four new cases and Nova Scotia reported nine new cases

Figures from New Brunswick and Newfoundland and Labrador show increases of four and two cases, respectively.

Prince Edward Island reported two new COVID-19 cases, both involving young males aged 10 and 19.

There were 14 new cases in Nova Scotia and five COVID-19 cases in Nunavut.

The immigration department is resuming citizenship tests that were put on hold more than eight months ago due to the global pandemic, with safeguards in place to ensure proper identification of those taking the tests online.

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) is launching a new virtual platform Thursday for the citizenship tests, which will be offered online to a small group at first – the roughly 5,000 people who had dates scheduled before the pandemic that were subsequently cancelled, and other priority cases.

Self-assessment and supports:

With winter cold and influenza season approaching, Alberta Health Services will prioritize Albertans for testing who have symptoms, and those groups which are at higher risk of getting or spreading the virus.

General asymptomatic testing is currently unavailable for people with no known exposure to COVID-19.

Those who test positive will be asked to use the online COVID-19 contact tracing tool, so that their close contacts can be notified by text message.

The province says Albertans who have returned to Canada from other countries must self-isolate. Unless your situation is critical and requires a call to 911, Albertans are advised to call Health Link at 811 before visiting a physician, hospital or other health-care facility.

If you have symptoms, even mild, you are to self-isolate for at least 10 days from the onset of symptoms, until the symptoms have disappeared. 

You can find Alberta Health Services’ latest coronavirus updates here.

The province also operates a confidential mental health support line at 1-877-303-2642 and addiction help line at 1-866-332-2322, both available 24 hours a day. 

Online resources are available for advice on handling stressful situations and ways to talk with children.

There is a 24-hour family violence information line at 310-1818 to get anonymous help in more than 170 languages, and Alberta’s One Line for Sexual Violence is available at 1-866-403-8000, from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.

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Alberta reports 1609 more COVID-19 cases, bringing weekend total to 3340 – CTV Edmonton



Alberta reported 1,609 new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday, bringing the total number of active cases in the province to 15,692.

The province also reported nine deaths on Sunday. All of the deaths were linked to care centres:

  • A man in his 80s, a woman in her 80s, a man in his 70s, a man in his 90s, and a woman in her 90s all with comorbidities were all linked to the Edmonton Chinatown Care Centre.
  • A man in his 90s with unknown comorbidities from the Westlock Continuing Care Centre.
  • A man in his 80s with no known comorbidities at the Laurel Heights Retirement Residence in the Edmonton Zone.
  • A man in his 90s in the South Zone with comorbidities.
  • A man in his 80s with unknown comorbidities at Clifton Manor in Calgary.

There are currently 7,230 active cases in the Edmonton Zone, up from 6,968 on Saturday, and 5,756 active cases in the Calgary Zone, up from 5,446 on Saturday.

A total of 415 people are in hospital and 88 are in the ICU. On Saturday, the province reported that 435 people were in hospital, and 95 were in intensive care.

A total of 23,282 tests were performed on Saturday.

The total number of cases reported in the province this weekend is 3,340.

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