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Singles’ Day: Alibaba shoppers ready to mingle on ‘Double Eleven’ – Al Jazeera English

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SHORT ANSWER

Alibaba Group Holding Ltd turned China’s anti-Valentine’s Day into an enormous global shopping event. How will Singles’ Day fare in a COVID-19 world?

Singles’ Day kicked off Wednesday in Asia and is expected to rake in significant profits for online retailer Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.

That is good news for the e-commerce giant, which lost $76bn of its market value last week after the Chinese government suspended the much-anticipated IPO of Alibaba’s financial arm, Ant Group.

But what is the backstory behind the festival known as “Double Eleven,” and why do people celebrate it by buying tonnes of stuff? Here is what you need to know.

First of all, what does ‘Double Eleven’ have to do with single people?

The festival’s name is tied to the date – November 11 – but 11/11 also looks like four single people standing in a line. And the pronunciation of all of those elevens in Mandarin sounds similar to an idiom that means “a whole lifetime” or “all my life.” Cue the sappy music.

That is a little gentler than the day’s alternate name, “Guang Gun Jie”  (“Bare Sticks Day”) which is a play on the numbers themselves and the idea that single people are lonely sticks that do not add to the family tree. Ouch.

Yikes. So why do single people get their own day?

Come on, they have bought enough wedding presents for their married friends over the years, so why not?! But in all seriousness, the story goes that Singles’ Day was started by four bachelors at Nanjing University in 1993 as a kind of protest against Valentine’s Day in China’s traditionally marriage-obsessed culture.

Is it for all the single ladies, too?

Feminists have criticised how traditional Chinese society views single women. “The Chinese girl was brought up, then as now, with matrimony in view as her goal,” Confucius wrote, and the unmarried are sometimes branded as “sheng nu” (“leftover women”)  and looked down upon if they were not wives and mothers. For that reason, some see Singles’ Day as deeply sexist – even if it has turned into an online shopping blitz, Racked reported.

Complicated. So how is Singles’ Day celebrated?

Lots of ways. It is sometimes an excuse for single friends to get together and party – or try out matchmaking and set themselves up with dates.

It is also an auspicious day to do something decidedly anti-single, like have a wedding. In fact, 4,000 couples applied to tie the knot in Beijing on the ultimate Singles’ Day of November 11, 2011 – five times more than the city’s average daily weddings, the Wall Street Journal newspaper reported.

Cool. My wedding invite must have gotten lost in the mail. Bring on the shopping!

Since Alibaba capitalised on the trend in 2009, Singles’ Day has also been about shopping ’til you drop.

Last year, the company hit $38.3bn in gross merchandise volume, shattering its previous Singles’ Day sales records. In fact, Singles’ Day sales hit 84 billion yuan ($12bn) within the first hour in 2019. All those single people were definitely stocking up – and plenty of their married friends were, too.

What about this year?

Alibaba is hoping wealthy Chinese consumers will be eager to spend despite the pandemic, searching for luxury goods online that they might have bought on trips abroad before COVID-19 travel restrictions hit.

Alibaba is also introducing two million new products – double the amount from last year – Reuters reported.

So will the pandemic boost or hurt sales?

Online retailers have generally fared well as shoppers have been stuck at home clicking their way to some semblance of normalcy, although COVID-19 has caused widespread unemployment around the globe, which definitely slows the shopping.

But like Amazon, which moved its Prime Days to October and got a “Christmas creep” jump on holiday shoppers, Alibaba also held early discount days from November 1 to November 3 and sales from all 11 days will factor into its gross merchandise volume totals. It is betting those 11 days will mingle for a profitable Singles’ Day.

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Wednesday's list of potential COVID-19 exposure locations – HalifaxToday.ca

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NEWS RELEASE
NOVA SCOTIA HEALTH
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Nova Scotia Health Public Health is advising of potential exposure to COVID-19 at various locations across Halifax. Public Health is currently in the process of contacting all businesses listed below.

Anyone who visited the following locations on the specified date and time to immediately visit covid-self-assessment.novascotia.ca/ to book a COVID-19 test, regardless of whether or not they have COVID-19 symptoms. People who book testing because they were at a site of potential exposure to COVID-19 are required to self-isolate before their test and while waiting for test results. You can also call 811 if you don’t have online access or if you have other symptoms that concern you. 

  • Oxford Taproom (6418 Quinpool Rd, Halifax) on Nov. 17 between 12 noon and 3:30 p.m. It is anticipated that anyone exposed to the virus at this location on the named date may develop symptoms up to, and including, Dec. 1.
  • Bearly’s House of Blues & Ribs (1269 Barrington Street, Halifax) Nov. 19 between 9 p.m. and 12:30 a.m. It is anticipated that anyone exposed to the virus at this location on the named date may develop symptoms up to, and including, Dec. 3.
  • The Auction House (1726 Argyle St, Halifax) on Nov. 19 from 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. It is anticipated that anyone exposed to the virus at this location on the named date may develop symptoms up to, and including, Dec. 3.
  • *Corrected time* Mary’s African Cuisine (1701 Barrington St, Halifax) on Nov. 19 between 4:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. It is anticipated that anyone exposed to the virus at this location on the named date may develop symptoms up to, and including, Dec. 3.
  • ROGUE Fitness (6331 Lady Hammonds Rd, Halifax) on Nov. 19 between 6:45 p.m. and 9 p.m. It is anticipated that anyone exposed to the virus at this location on the named date may develop symptoms up to, and including, Dec. 3.
  • RIO Pilates & Yoga Studio (2470 Maynard St, Halifax) on Nov. 19 between 6:45 a.m. and 9 a.m. and Nov. 20 between 6:45 a.m. and 9 a.m. It is anticipated that anyone exposed to the virus at this location on the named date may develop symptoms up to, and including, Dec. 4.
  • Uncommon Grounds (1030 South Park St, Halifax) on Nov. 20 between 1:30 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. It is anticipated that anyone exposed to the virus at this location on the named date may develop symptoms up to, and including, Dec. 4.
  • The Roxbury Urban Dive Bar (1743 Grafton St, Halifax) on Nov. 20 between 9:30 p.m. and 1 a.m. It is anticipated that anyone exposed to the virus at this location on the named date may develop symptoms up to, and including, Dec. 4.
  • The Midtown Tavern and Lounge (1744 Grafton Street, Halifax) on Nov 20. between 8:45 p.m. and 12:30 a.m. It is anticipated that anyone exposed to the virus at this location on the named date may develop symptoms up to, and including, Dec. 4.
  • The Split Crow Pub (1855 Granville Street, Halifax) on Nov. 20 between 4:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. It is anticipated that anyone exposed to the virus at this location on the named date may develop symptoms up to, and including, Dec. 4.
  • Mary’s Place Café II (5982 Spring Garden Rd, Halifax) on Nov. 20 between 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. It is anticipated that anyone exposed to the virus at this location on the named date may develop symptoms up to, and including, Dec. 4. 
  • Chop Steakhouse & Bar – Sutton Place Hotel (1680 Grafton St, Halifax) on Nov. 20 between 8:30 p.m. and 12 a.m. It is anticipated that anyone exposed to the virus at this location on the named date may develop symptoms up to, and including, Dec. 4.
  • Tony’s Famous Donair & Pizza (2390 Robie St, Halifax) on Nov. 21 between 11:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. It is anticipated that anyone exposed to the virus at this location on the named date may develop symptoms up to, and including, Dec. 5.
  • *Corrected date* Sea Smoke Restaurant and Bar (1477 Lower Water St, Halifax) on Nov. 21 from 3:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. It is anticipated that anyone exposed to the virus at this location on the named date may develop symptoms up to, and including, Dec. 5.
  • *Corrected dates* Hermitage Restaurant (1460 Lower Water St, Halifax) at any time between Nov. 18 and Nov. 21. It is anticipated that anyone exposed to the virus at this location on the named dates may develop symptoms up to, and including, Dec. 5.
  • Dauphinee Centre, Saint Mary’s University (934 Tower Road, Halifax) at any time between Nov. 18 and Nov. 22. It is anticipated that anyone exposed to the virus at this location on the named dates may develop symptoms up to, and including, Dec. 6.
  • The Stubborn Goat Gastropub (1579 Grafton St, Halifax) on Nov. 22 between 12:30 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. It is anticipated that anyone exposed to the virus at this location on the named date may develop symptoms up to, and including, Dec. 6.

Please remember:

  • Do not go directly to a COVID-19 assessment centre without being directed to do so.

Currently, anyone travelling to Nova Scotia from outside of the Atlantic Provinces is expected to self-isolate alone for 14 days after arriving. If a person travelling for non-essential reasons enters Nova Scotia from outside Atlantic Canada, then everyone in the home where they are self-isolating will have to self-isolate as well.

When Nova Scotia Health Public Health makes a public notification it is not in any way a reflection on the behaviour or activities of those named in the notification. 

All Nova Scotians are advised to continue monitoring for COVID-19 symptoms and are urged to follow Public Health guidelines on how to access care. Up to date information about COVID-19 is available at novascotia.ca/coronavirus

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Imperial Oil to lay off 200 workers following cost-cutting analysis – CBC.ca

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Calgary-based Imperial Oil Ltd. says it will lay off about 200 of its 6,000 employees as part of a cost-cutting initiative.

The company, which has been reluctant to reduce staff during the current and previous industry downturns, also confirms it has reduced the number of contractors it employs by about 450 since the start of the year.

Imperial committed in March to cut spending by $1 billion, including a $500 million reduction in capital spending plus $500 million in lower operating expenses.

Job cuts at other oil and gas companies

The job cuts are part of a trend by Calgary oil and gas companies who have been reporting reduced earnings on lower commodity prices due to demand destruction caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Cenovus Energy Inc. and Husky Energy Inc. have announced they will cut as many as one in four jobs, potentially more than 2,000 workers, if their merger announced in October is closed as expected early next year.

Suncor, meanwhile, has announced it will cut as many as 1,930 jobs over 18 months to reduce total staff by 10 to 15 per cent.

“Throughout the past year, the company responded aggressively to the challenging business environment by reducing capital and operating expenditures and adjusting project pacing,” Imperial said in a posting on its website, adding it has reassessed its current and future business plans.

“We recognize any job losses are difficult for individuals and their families who may be affected. Impacted employees will be provided with company support, including outplacement services.”

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Alberta withdraws from testing of national emergency public alert system – CTV Toronto

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CALGARY —
The majority of Canadians received an emergency alert Wednesday but the notifications did not appear on mobile devices, radios and televisions in Alberta.

The provincial government elected to opt-out of the testing of the national public alerting system, joining Nunavut as the lone holdouts.

In a statement to CTV News, the press secretary for Alberta’s minister of municipal affairs said the Government of Alberta has confidence in its own notification system.

“As Premier Kenney stated yesterday the province will use the Alberta Emergency Alert system to inform people of the new COVID-19 restrictions,” said Justin Marshall. “We opted out of the national alert test to avoid confusion with Alberta’s coming alert. As I’m sure you can understand, too frequent alerts can have the tendency of diminishing the importance.

“Alberta’s focus during this time is on keeping Albertans safe and informed of the measures in place. Nunavut also opted out of the national test today. We are confident that the alert system works for Alberta.”

According to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, the testing of the national public alerting system is done “to ensure it operates as intended in the event of a life-threatening situation” and no action is required by alert recipients.

With files from The Canadian Press

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