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Thanksgiving festivities may have affected COVID-19 numbers in hot spots: Ont. govt – BayToday

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Health officials in Ontario and Manitoba are pointing to recent Thanksgiving celebrations as they continue to see high numbers of new COVID-19 infections despite strengthening restrictions in hot spot areas.

In Ontario, where new cases reached a peak over the weekend, Health Minister Christine Elliott said the holiday took place around the same time as the province imposed stricter health measures in three regions, including Toronto. The tighter rules were applied to a fourth region more than a week later.

While the number of new daily infections is starting to decrease in some areas, such as Ottawa, in the other regions, “we’re not seeing that happen quite as quickly as we’d like to,” Elliott said.

“We’re also seeing some of the impacts from Thanksgiving several weeks ago, so we’ve got that adding to the increase in community transmission, but we are also starting to see some of the numbers in some of the modified areas,” she said.

Elliott’s comments came a day after Ontario — one of the two provinces hit hardest by the pandemic — recorded 1,000 new cases, its highest single-day increase since the start of the global health crisis. The number of new infections dropped to 851 new cases on Monday, a level comparable to last week.

Of those, 281 cases were in Toronto, 215 in Peel Region, 90 in York Region and 76 in Ottawa.

Toronto’s medical officer of health, Dr. Eileen de Villa, said the current case counts reflect infections that were acquired about two weeks ago so it’s likely Thanksgiving played a role, but it’s not possible to say how significant an impact it had.

“Certainly the timing lines up appropriately,” she said.

Meanwhile, Manitoba’s top doctor urged residents Monday to stop gathering in large groups, saying many of the 100 new cases reported by the province that day were linked to Thanksgiving festivities.

The vast majority of the new infections were in Winnipeg, which was placed under enhanced restrictions following a recent spike in cases.

So far, there have been 4,349 cases in Manitoba, 2,117 of which are active, and 55 deaths.

“The trajectory is in the wrong direction and if we continue at this pace, we are likely going to see over 5,000 cases by the end of this week,” said Dr. Brent Roussin, Manitoba’s chief provincial public health officer.

Isaac Bogoch, infectious disease specialist at the University of Toronto, said it’s challenging to know exactly what was driving the case numbers over the last few days.

The timing suggests Thanksgiving played a role “but it’s probably not the sole factor,” he said. “It certainly would be somewhat reasonable to think that part of that rise in cases was related to Thanksgiving, or people getting together for whatever reason.”

At the same time, it would take at least two weeks to see any change as a result of new restrictions, and case counts would be expected to continue rising in that time, he said.

The next few weeks will be “very telling” when it comes to how the second wave is playing out, he added.

Either way, health officials should begin to prepare the public for Christmas — a holiday that involves even more gatherings and travel than Thanksgiving, he said.

“No one wants to say publicly that it’s unlikely that the numbers will be down in many of the hot spots in Canada in a sufficient enough way to say it’s OK to get together for Christmas.”

Alberta also imposed a 15-person limit on social gatherings in its two biggest cities on Monday, as cases in Calgary and Edmonton continue to climb.

The province reported 364 cases on Friday, 572 on Saturday and 506 on Sunday, along with seven additional deaths over the weekend. 

Unlike Ontario, Manitoba and Quebec, the Alberta government is not toughening rules for restaurants and bars because few infections seem to be connected to those venues.

In Quebec, Premier Francois Legault told a news conference in Montreal that the province’s rates of new, daily infections and deaths linked to the virus were too high to ease restrictions that have been in place since Oct. 1.

The partial lockdown on regions in maximum pandemic-alert zones was imposed until Oct. 28. But Legault said the forced closure of gyms, bars, restaurant dining areas and entertainment venues in the province’s biggest cities — such as Montreal and Quebec City — will be extended until Nov. 23. 

“We have stabilized the number of new cases but we still have a big challenge in front of us,” he said.

The province, which has been leading the country in cumulative cases, surpassed 100,000 confirmed infections over the weekend. Quebec reported 808 new cases on Monday and 10 more deaths.

“We can’t continue to have 800-1,000 cases per day,” Legault said.

Earlier in the day, a coalition of gyms and other fitness-related businesses vowed to reopen Thursday regardless of the health orders.

Legault rejected their threat outright. He said those businesses won’t reopen and owners of gyms and other companies who violate lockdown orders risk being fined. 

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Monday, Oct. 26, 2020.

Paola Loriggio, The Canadian Press

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Confusion remains in B.C. on who can gather in restaurants under COVID-19 restrictions – Global News

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The B.C. Restaurant and Food Association says a new set of COVID-19 restrictions imposed by the provincial government has customers struggling to understand who they are allowed to dine with.

The association’s president Ian Tostenson says restaurants are trying to tell customers to use common sense and follow advice from provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, but he says that advice has been unclear.

“There is a lot of confusion as to who can dine out as a result of the last couple of weeks with Dr. Henry,” Tostenson said Monday.

“The spirit of what Dr. Henry is saying is eat with people you trust, eat with people in your bubble. But if you try to define that too much it gets too hard.”

Read more:
‘Kicked when we’re down’: New COVID-19 restrictions hit already struggling B.C. restaurants

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The provincial orders issued last week require diners to only eat with someone from their own household. If someone is single, they can eat with one or two other people who make up their pandemic bubble.

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For example, three friends who are also married cannot all eat together at a restaurant. Another common mistake is parents cannot take their adult child and spouse for a meal at a restaurant if they live in separate households.

“For these two weeks we’re saying stick with your household bubble, and for some people that may mean one or two people who they have close contact with their pandemic bubble,” Henry said Monday.

The biggest challenge to uphold the order is enforcement.

Restaurants are being told not to ask diners whether they are following the rules. Instead, Henry is asking diners to know the rules themselves.


Click to play video 'Christmas events put ‘on hold’ by pandemic'



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Christmas events put ‘on hold’ by pandemic


Christmas events put ‘on hold’ by pandemic

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“It is not the restaurant’s responsibility to ask people who they live with, or where they are from,” Tostenson said.

“The more that we increase confusion and uncertainty in the marketplace the harder it is.”

There is growing concern from the province that British Columbians are trying to exploit loopholes in the order. The priority for the government is to crack down of social gatherings if that is in someone’s home or in a restaurant.

Read more:
Your questions about B.C.’s new COVID-19 measures answered

One thing enforcement can do is crack down on organized events in a restaurant like live music.

“There is a tendency to … see these like a speed limit and it says 80 (km/h), and maybe I can go 86. That’s not what these are,” Health Minister Adrian Dix said Monday.

“These are provincial health orders to help us stop the spread of a virus that is harming our loved ones in long-term care and causing great disruption in our society, and these are the things we’re doing together to stop that.”

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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'We are on the verge of significant bankruptcies': Restaurants and pubs struggle under B.C.'s new restrictions – CTV News Vancouver

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VANCOUVER —
New measures introduced last Thursday by Dr. Bonnie Henry meant to curb the spread of COVID-19 by limiting social interactions appear to be having the desired effect, to the detriment of businesses.

At a news conference on Nov. 19, Henry ordered B.C. residents to limit social gatherings to their immediate household, or a small pandemic bubble for those living alone.

“This applies in our homes, vacation rentals and in the community and in public venues, including those with less than 50 people in controlled settings,” Henry said.

She made no specific mention of restaurants or pubs, and Ian Tostenson with the BC Restaurant and Foodservices Association said there has been confusion about who can dine out.

“We haven’t seen the latest health order, it hasn’t been written from last week, so as far as we’re concerned, we’re telling people go to a restaurant but go to a restaurant in the spirit of hanging with people you trust in a small bubble,” Tostenson said.

Tostenson estimates over the last 10 days, restaurants have lost about 30-40 per cent of their pandemic sales as those who were confused by the orders chose to stay home.

Henry’s order was an expansion of a previous regional order that only applied in B.C.’s Lower Mainland. During prior news conferences, Henry made clear that while dining out was encouraged, people should only do it with their households.

On Monday, Henry clarified again that she wants British Columbians to spend the next two weeks only socializing in person with others from their household, or a bubble of one or two designated people for those who live alone. That applies to going to restaurants.

The restrictions are also hitting bars and pubs hard. Jeff Guignard with the Alliance of Beverage Licensees estimated business dropped by 50 per cent of pandemic levels.

“So you have people who are down to 25 per cent of where they were in 2019 and that’s just not sustainable. We’re on the verge of significant bankruptcies right now,” he said.

Restrictions are scheduled tin place until Dec. 7.

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Here are all the events that are affected by the new COVID-19 orders in B.C. – BC News – Castanet.net

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Last week, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced a host of new restrictions in the wake of surging cases of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) in the province. 

B.C.’s top doctor stated that all British Columbians are ordered to stop any non-essential travel outside of their respective health regions until Dec. 7. Several other indoor activities will be put on hold, as well as all community-based gatherings. 

Today, Henry clarified what events and gatherings must be postponed under the new order during the daily COVID-19 news briefing. She underscored that all events are postponed, regardless of whether they are indoor or outdoor. That said, these events aren’t cancelled, but “on pause.”

She added that many of the province’s beloved Christmas and holiday events will be postponed, too. 

“If we are able to get into a place of control, then some of these lower-risk events may happen again,” said Henry. “But right now, we need to stop all of those opportunities for us to congregate, to go out and do things socially.”

Movie theatres have also been suspended, as well as events at bars and restaurants. However, bars and restaurants will remain open because they offer important ways to ensure that people get meals, explained Henry. 

Art galleries are permitted to have people browsing their collections on a daily basis as long as they have strict COVID-19 safety plans in place. But exhibition openings, larger gatherings and events at galleries must also be postponed. 

What is considered an event?

In the updated public health order, “event” refers to anything which gathers people together whether on a one-time, regular or irregular basis. All events and community-based gatherings as defined in the PHO order are temporarily suspended. 

The following events are not permitted under the new health order: 

  • a gathering in vacation accommodation
  • a private residence
  • banquet hall or another place
  • a party
  • worship service
  • ceremony or celebration of any type
  • reception
  • wedding (unless fewer than 10 people)
  • funeral (unless fewer than 10 people)
  • celebration of life (unless fewer than 10 people)
  • musical, theatrical or dance entertainment or performance
  • live band performance, disc jockey performance
  • strip dancing
  • comedic act
  • art show
  • magic show
  • puppet show
  • fashion show
  • book signing
  • reading
  • recitation
  • display
  • movie
  • film
  • meeting
  • conference
  • lecture
  • talk
  • educational presentation (except in a school or post-secondary educational institution)
  • auction
  • fundraising benefit
  • contest
  • competition
  • quiz
  • game
  • rally
  • festival
  • presentation
  • demonstration
  • athletic
  • sporting or other physical activity
  • exhibition
  • market or fair, including a trade fair, agricultural fair, seasonal fair or episodic indoor event that has as its primary purpose the sale of merchandise or services e.g. Christmas craft markets, home shows, antique fairs and the like and for certainty includes a gathering preceding or following another event.

Social gatherings and events

No social gatherings of any size at your residence with anyone other than your household or core bubble. For example:

  • Do not invite friends or extended family to your household 
  • Do not host gathering outdoors
  • Do not gather in your backyard
  • Do not have playdates for children

All events and community-based gatherings as defined in the PHO order – Gatherings and Events (PDF) are suspended. For example:

  • Galas
  • Musical or theatre performances
  • Seasonal activities
  • Silent auctions

The order is in effect from Nov. 19 at midnight to Dec. 7 at midnight.

Earlier today, Henry announced 1,933 new cases of COVID-19 in the province over three days, as well as 17 fatalities. 

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