As of midnight, Ontario entered a month-long provincewide shutdown that will see restaurants shuttered and gatherings further restricted.
Premier Doug Ford announced that he would be “pulling the emergency break” as a result of rising COVID-19 cases and intensive care admissions.
“Friends, right now we’re into a third wave of COVID-19,” Ford told reporters on Friday. “The variants of concern are spreading rapidly. This is a new pandemic. We’re now fighting a new enemy.”
The premier used the term “shutdown” to describe the new restrictions, but what does that mean?
How is the shutdown different from the restrictions already in place under the provincial COVID-19 framework?
The shutdown rules are quite similar to the older version of the grey zone, the strictest tier in the province’s COVID-19 framework.
Last month, the province made changes to the grey zone rules, allowing patios to open, outdoor fitness to resume and personal care services to begin operation.
Under the new shutdown, all of those services are shuttered yet again. The number of people allowed to gather outdoors has also decreased from 10 to five.
The only other difference is that the shutdown is provincewide and will impact all 34 of Ontario’s public health units.
A full list of what you can and cannot do can be found here.
How long will it last?
The government has said that the shutdown will last at least one month, or until May 3.
Are schools open?
Schools and child-care centres are expected to stay open throughout the four-week shutdown. . Education Minister Stephen Lecce said that the provincial government is fully committed to keeping schools open and that students will return to “elevated” infection prevention and control measures.
Day camps, however, will be closed.
Is the April break still happening?
The postponed March Break, now scheduled for the week of April 12, is expected to go ahead as planned.
Can I go to a restaurant?
In-person dining (indoor and outdoor) is prohibited. Restaurants are allowed to provide takeout and delivery only.
Can I get a haircut?
No. All personal care services are prohibited during the shutdown.
Can I go to the store?
Retail stores are allowed to operate with strict capacity limits. Essential stores such as supermarkets, pharmacies and other stores that primarily sell food can open at 50 per cent capacity, while all other retailers, including big box stores, are restricted at 25 per cent capacity.
While standing in line to enter a store, customers must maintain two meters distance between one another.
Are gyms open?
No. Gyms, as well as outdoor fitness classes, are closed during the shutdown.
Is there a stay-at-home order?
The province opted not to issue a stay-at-home order during the shutdown. However, residents are encouraged not to leave their home except for essential reasons, inlcuding trips for buying food, medication, medical appointments, supporting vulnerable individuals and exercising outdoors with members of their household.
Can I get together with my family?
It is illegal to gather indoors with anyone you do not live with. Residents may get together with up to five people outdoors, but a two-metre distance must be maintained.
Can I host a wedding or hold a funeral?
Indoor ceremonies or religious services are capped at 15 per cent capacity. There is no cap on outdoor religious services, but all participants must be able to stay two metres apart from one another.
Can I travel in the province?
Residents are being asked not to travel outside of their region or province unless absolutely necessary.
Why is this happening?
The shutdown was implemented as a result of rising COVID-19 variant cases and a record-breaking number of admissions to the intensive care unit as a result of the disease. New modelling data released on Thursday suggests that even with further restrictions, including a stay-at-home order, COVID-19 admissions to intensive care units could reach 800 by the end of the month.
As COVID-19 vaccines for kids get closer, experts weigh up how to reassure parents – CBC.ca
As Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech say they’ve moved a step closer to providing their COVID-19 vaccine for younger children, one mother says she’s keen to have her eldest vaccinated, but hears some hesitation among other parents.
“As parents, you’re nervous and you’re apprehensive, obviously, about any risks,” said Fallon Jones, who lives in Halifax with a five-year-old daughter and two-year-old son.
“But we have to weigh the pros and the cons here, and I think that this is a good opportunity to protect them against a potentially deadly virus,” she told The Current’s Matt Galloway.
Pfizer-BioNTech said Monday that a clinical trial of its COVID-19 vaccine recorded a robust immune response in five- to 11-year-olds, and the company plans to seek regulatory approval as soon as possible. Children received two shots, each one-third the dose size given to adults. The findings have not been peer-reviewed, nor published.
For any vaccine to be approved by Health Canada, the manufacturers supply the necessary clinical trial data for review. If the regulator grants approval, the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) will make a recommendation on their use, but the final decision to deploy the vaccines rests with provincial authorities.
In a statement to The Current, Health Canada said the makers of all COVID-19 vaccines approved in Canada are conducting or planning studies in adolescents and younger children, but it has so far not received any submission for the approval of any COVID-19 vaccine for children under 12.
In her work at a vaccine hesitancy clinic in Calgary, Dr. Cora Constantinescu meets parents who are experiencing “a lot of fear and anxiety” around their children potentially getting the vaccine.
“We often have parents who are fully vaccinated themselves, who may be hesitant about their kids,” said Constantinescu, a pediatrician and infectious disease doctor at Alberta Children’s Hospital.
She said that parents talk to her about things they’ve seen online, including “anti-vaccine rhetoric and a lot of misconstrued science.”
In Halifax, Jones said she often hears other parents say they don’t know what’s in the vaccine, so they won’t give it to their kids. When she asks if they knew what was in the vaccines their kids received as babies, the response is usually no, she said.
“I completely respect and understand how there would be some fear associated with it,” she said.
But ultimately, “we trusted our doctors then and we trusted the science then, and we need to do the same with this vaccine.”
How should parents approach vaccine question?
Constantinescu said many parents have seen misinformation on social media, where there is a “huge polarization of the pro-vaccine and the anti-vaccine crowd.”
“The parents are caught in the middle, scared and worried about their kids, trying to make the best decision they can,” she said.
As parents approach the decision, they should consider the dual impact of COVID-19 on children, she said.
“We’re seeing the direct effects of COVID on children, and we know that that can range from mild disease, to respiratory illness, to being hospitalized, having a multi-system inflammation, to ending up in ICU,” she said.
There is also an indirect cost, including mental health issues and issues around socialization, she said.
The news from Pfizer-BioNTech gives her hope that those impacts can soon be addressed, but she warned that the data has not yet been made public, or reviewed by Health Canada.
If it is approved, she said parents should approach the vaccine as an issue of “personal protection first.”
“It’s about protecting their kids directly, looking out for them, and wanting to return them to a normal life,” she said.
‘Pull out all the stops’ to protect kids
Dr. Kashif Pirzada, an emergency physician in Toronto, wants to see a safe vaccine for kids approved and available as quickly as possible.
“I’m calling for all of these processes to be speeded up and done very transparently,” said Pirzada, who is also a co-founder of Masks4Canada, a group that advocates for public health measures to slow the spread of the virus.
He added that more work should be done to reassure parents that the vaccines are safe. He warned that COVID-19 is not harmless to children, and the longer they remain unprotected, the more infections there will be.
In the meantime, vaccination sites and health-care workers could be prepared to ramp the vaccination campaign back up, he said.
“Once that approval comes, we should pull out all the stops and get these shots into little arms as quickly as possible.”
Written by Padraig Moran. Produced by Rachel Levy-McLaughlin, Arianne Robinson and Joana Draghici.
Gold price drops as Powell talks 'gradual' tapering, downplays Evergrande contagion concerns – Kitco NEWS
(Kitco News) The gold market saw its earlier gains reversed as Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell talked about “gradual” tapering while downplaying China’s Evergrande contagion effect on the U.S. market.
On Wednesday, the Fed said it may soon start tapering its $120 billion in monthly asset purchases, with central bank officials showing growing support for raising interest rates in 2022.
“If progress continues broadly as expected, the Committee judges that a moderation in the pace of asset purchases may soon be warranted. These asset purchases help foster smooth market functioning and accommodative financial conditions, thereby supporting the flow of credit to households and businesses,” the Fed said in a statement.
When clarifying the Fed’s stance at a press conference following the Fed statement, Powell indicated that it would be a “very gradual taper,” which could conclude in the middle of next year.
Powell also pointed out that the central bank has the freedom to speed up or slow down the tapering process as it sees fit. He added that markets should not expect a rate hike while the Fed is still tapering.
Tapering does depend on substantial further progress made by the U.S. economy. And if the economy continues to advance in line with expectations, the Fed could move ahead with tapering at the next meeting.
“For me, it wouldn’t take a knockout [August] employment report. It would take a reasonably good employment report for me to feel like that test is met,” Powell said. “I would say that in my own thinking, the test is all but met. I don’t personally need to see a very strong employment report. Again it’s not to be confused with the test for [rate] liftoff, which is so much higher.”
The Fed Chair was also asked about China’s Evergrande debt issue, which sparked a rout in the markets earlier this week.
“The Evergrande situation seems very particular to China, which has very high debt for an emerging economy,” Powell told reporters. “Corporate defaults in the U.S. are very low right now … You would worry that it would affect global financial conditions through confidence channels.”
When asked about the stock-trading policies for Fed officials, Powell replied that they are “not adequate” and the Fed “could do better.”
Powell noted that it is reasonable for Fed officials not to own the same assets as Fed buys. “We are going to be looking at all those things,” he said.
On the debt ceiling issue, Powell also urged Congress to raise the debt limit in a timely fashion. “It is critically important. Failure to do that is something that could result in severe damage to the economy and financial markets.”
He added that no one should assume Fed can protect the economy if the debt ceiling is not raised.
In response to Powell’s comments, gold saw some losses as markets interpreted Powell’s comments as upbeat when it came to the U.S. economy. At the time of writing, December Comex gold futures were trading at $1,767.20, down 0.62% on the day.
Data from 3 major hospital systems reveals how many COVID-19 patients are fully vaccinated – Bring Me The News
330 people are in BC hospitals with COVID-19 – MY PG NOW
U.S. CDC advisers recommend COVID-19 vaccine boosters for 65 and older, high risk – CBC.ca
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Europe kicks off vaccination programs | All media content | DW | 27.12.2020 – Deutsche Welle
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