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Quebec pork plant outbreak grows as Alberta looks to boost ailing travel industry – Airdrie Today

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A COVID-19 outbreak at a Quebec pork-processing plant grew Thursday as Manitoba expanded its restrictions and Alberta announced a testing pilot at two international border crossings that it hopes will eventually boost its ailing travel industry. 

Olymel said 62 workers at its plant southeast of Quebec City had tested positive for the novel coronavirus. 

The union representing plant workers is calling for a temporary closure, but the company says it is following guidance from public health officials who have not recommended a shutdown.

One worker died following a positive test result, but it wasn’t yet determined whether the death was due to the novel coronavirus. 

Quebec, the province hardest-hit by COVID-19, reported 1,033 new cases Thursday and 20 additional deaths. Five hundred and fifty-three people were in hospital, including 101 in intensive care. 

Premier Francois Legault said chances are slim restaurants in Quebec’s largest cities will be allowed to reopen this month as the province continue to report daily case increases in the quadruple digits. 

Montreal and Quebec City have been under a 28-day partial lockdown since Oct. 1.

“At this time, we need to reduce even the risk of contact because we cannot afford to continue having about 1,000 new cases every day,” Legault said.  

Manitoba reported four COVID-19 fatalities on Thursday in its deadliest day yet. 

Dr. Brent Roussin, the chief provincial public health officer, announced 147 new cases — 87 in Winnipeg, where more restrictions on restaurants, pubs and gathering sizes came into effect this week.

He said the measures will also apply to the northern health region and Churchill starting next week. Extra measures are being put in place for schools in the Winnipeg area and the north starting Monday, including cancelling field trips, banning choirs and wind instruments and requiring substitute teachers to wear medical masks.

Manitoba’s daily test positivity rate is up to 5.6 per cent.

“We have to change things. We fell back on the fundamentals,” Roussin said. “We got back to all that normalcy that we want, but we just know this is what happens when we attempt that.”

Also Thursday, the European Union’s council reimposed a travel ban on Canada, reversing a decision in June that lifted entry restrictions on a number of non-EU countries. Europe is battling a second wave of the pandemic.

In Alberta, Premier Jason Kenney announced a joint federal-provincial pilot project that will enable international travellers re-entering Canada via the Calgary International Airport or the Coutts land border crossing from Montana to avoid a full 14-day quarantine. Instead, they would only have to isolate for a matter of days. 

The pilot is to begin on Nov. 2 and is open to asymptomatic travellers returning to Canada who are Canadian citizens, permanent residents or foreign nationals permitted to enter Canada. 

“Though a lot of work lies ahead, we can see a return to normal travel,” said Kenney. “The results will help shape provincial and federal policy and ultimately they’ll help to find a new approach for international travel.” 

Those who voluntarily participate will receive a COVID-19 test upon entry into Canada before going into quarantine. If the result is negative, they can leave, as long as they promise to get tested six or seven days later at a pharmacy. 

Participants will be subject to daily symptom checks and will have to wear masks in public places and avoid visiting high-risk groups.

Anyone who chooses not to get a test will still have to quarantine for two weeks. 

Kenney said the provincial tourism industry has suffered a 63 per cent drop in spending this year. He also noted that three per cent of the province’s active cases were acquired through travel. 

“We must find ways to bring back safe travel if we’re ever going to get the economy firing again on all cylinders.”

Kenney made his remarks by phone as he was self-isolating at home. The premier tested negative for the novel coronavirus on Wednesday, but said he will remain in isolation for another week. 

Kenney attended events with Municipal Affairs Minister Tracy Allard, who contracted COVID-19 last week. 

Alberta reported 427 new infections in Thursday’s update, a new record and the second day in a row its daily case count breached the 400 mark. Its test positivity rate was at three per cent on Wednesday.  

Ontario Premier Doug Ford said his government is keeping a “sharp eye” on the Alberta border pilot project. 

“I’d be open to it, but I just first want to see what’s happening in Calgary,” said Ford, who noted that Pearson International Airport in Toronto gets far more volume and international traffic. 

Ontario reported 841 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday as two more Toronto hospitals declared outbreaks. 

Canada’s most populous province also recorded nine more deaths and had a daily test positivity rate of 2.5 per cent.

Two hundred and seventy people were in hospital, including 74 in intensive care and 48 on ventilators. 

The Scarborough Health Network said six patients were infected in one unit at its general hospital, and the University Health Network said it was dealing with an outbreak involving four patients at the Toronto Rehabilitation Institute.

St. Michael’s Hospital, St. Joseph’s Health Centre, Toronto Western Hospital and the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health have also declared outbreaks among staff or patients.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 22, 2020. 

Lauren Krugel, The Canadian Press

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News Releases | COVID-19 Bulletin #268 – news.gov.mb.ca

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Need More Info?

Public information, contact Manitoba Government Inquiry: 1-866-626-4862 or 204-945-3744.

Media requests for general information, contact Communications Services Manitoba: 204-945-3765.

Media requests for ministerial comment, contact Communications and Stakeholder Relations: 204-794-0732.

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Ontario parents can soon apply for 2nd COVID-19 payout, should come before holidays – CP24 Toronto's Breaking News

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Ontario parents will soon be able to apply for their next COVID-19 cheque from the provincial government and should receive the funds before the holidays.

On Friday, Education Minister Stephen Lecce announced the application portal to receive the second payout will open “within the next week.”

“It’s part of a broader effort to get money in the pockets of parents ahead of the holidays,” he said. “We know it’s tough. We are going to be there for parents and for the kids.”

The second payment was initially announced when the province tabled its budget earlier this month.

Parents of children aged 12 or younger will again be able to receive a one-time payment of $200 per child, and $250 for children 21 years of age or younger with special education needs.

This is the second payout from the province to Ontario families during the COVID-19 pandemic. The first payout came in the spring.

The payments are meant as “a measure of relief” for those affected by outbreaks of the disease in schools and for those choosing to learn at home.

The government will spend $380 million on the second payout to parents, on top of the $378 million from the first round.

Last week, the province announced that Ontario schools will not have an extended winter break.

On Friday, Lecce said the government is doing everything possible to keep students, staff and parents safe amid the second wave of the disease.

“The chief medical officer of health made a determination that at this time (an extended winter break) is not required,” Lecce said. “His belief is that our schools remain fundamentally safe, with 99.9 per cent of kids in the province COVID-19 free.”

“If the circumstances change – as you know, I acted to close schools, the first in the country, and I obviously will act to add new layers of prevention, or take additional recommendations from public health.”

Premier Doug Ford and Lecce announced on Thursday that students at participating schools in Ontario COVID-19 hot spots will be able to get tested for the disease regardless of whether or not they are experiencing symptoms.

As of Friday, 4,470 lab-confirmed positive cases of the novel coronavirus have been confirmed in Ontario schools. There are 671 schools across the province that have reported an infection and six of those schools currently remain closed.

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Black Friday comes with a warning in Manitoba – CBC.ca

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The Manitoba government sent out a stern reminder Friday morning that its public health orders must be heeded.

Black Friday, one of the biggest shopping days of the year, typically has crowds of people lining up well before stores open, but with a strict COVID-19 lockdown in place this year, the province wants the public to know that “personnel empowered to enforce public health orders will be out in full force.”

Anyone who breaks public health orders faces fines of $1,296 for individuals to $5,000 for business.

A news release from the province also urged Manitobans against leaving the province to shop in places where the restrictions aren’t as stringent.

In its release, the province noted a handful of new fines recently handed out, including in the Duck Mountain region, where $1,296 tickets were given to each of four hunters from Ontario for failing to self-isolate upon entering Manitoba.

A $5,000 fine went to Costco on McGillivray Avenue in Winnipeg for selling non-essential items on Thursday, while a ticket in the same amount was handed to the Church of God, south of Steinbach, for holding a service on Nov. 22.

Under current public health orders in Manitoba:

  • Anyone who has tested positive for COVID-19 or been exposed to COVID-19 by a close contact must self-isolate.
  • Anyone arriving in Manitoba is required to self-isolate for 14 days upon arrival to reduce the spread of COVID-19, with some exceptions.
  • Wearing a mask in all indoor public spaces is required, in addition to maintaining the required social distance of two metres in all indoor and outdoor public spaces. The fine for not wearing a mask is $298.
  • Gatherings at private residences are restricted, with some exceptions.
  • Gatherings of more than five people at any outdoor or indoor public place or in the common area of a multi-unit residence are prohibited, with some exceptions.
  • Retailers allowed to remain open must only sell essential items in person.
  • Businesses must limit the number of members of the public at the business to 25 per cent of the usual capacity of the premises or 250 persons, whichever is lower.
  • Places of worship must be closed and drive-in religious services are not permitted.

Despite the rules, the province said there are videos circulating widely on social media that show individuals gathering in groups larger than permitted. Anyone who knows the individuals involved is asked to call the COVID tip line at 204-945-3744 or toll-free at 1-866-626-4862.

Manitobans can also report compliance and enforcement issues online.

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