Ottawa’s Medical Officer of Health spent more than two hours answering questions from city councillors about COVID-19, many of them critical of a provincial decision to move Ottawa to a modified Stage 2 on Saturday, forcing many businesses to cease some or all of their operations for four weeks.
Councillors, echoing the questions of many of their constituents, wanted to know why certain businesses were seemingly being singled out and what evidence existed to support it.
Dr. Vera Etches was not able to provide concrete data suggesting restaurants, bars and gyms are a major driver of COVID-19 transmission. She did, however, say there is proof transmission is happening in those environments.
“We know there is a risk of transmission in these settings—bars and restaurants and indoor sports,” she said. “What we’ve found is there are people who have tested positive who’ve identified bars and restaurants as places they’ve been in the 14 days where they could have been exposed and picked up the virus, as well as people visiting those settings where they’re infectious.”
She says there has been evidence of transmission of COVID-19 between employees in businesses like bars and restaurants and between groups of people socializing in these settings.
“Have they been in Costco? Have they been in Walmart? Have they been in school?” Barrhaven Coun. Jan Harder asked.
Dr. Etches said there are some differences between how people behave in a big box store and how they behave in a restaurant or bar, even if more people might be in the former at any given time.
“I think we need to go back to the basics here, and I am looking at how to remind other business like larger stores and others, that it is about wearing masks and keeping distance in those stores,” Dr. Etches said, speaking on big box stores. “The challenge with restaurants and bars is we know people take off their masks to eat and drink, so there is more of a risk there, potentially, based on what we see in other jurisdictions.”
Dr. Etches later told reporters that eight per cent of people who have tested positive have reported during contact tracing investigations that they’ve been in a restaurant or a bar in the time when they either became infected or could have infected others.
Businesses want to see proof
On Tuesday, the Ottawa Council of Business Improvement Areas (OCOBIA) sent an open letter to the provincial government, demanding to see the data that the province used to justify the 28-day partial lockdown of restaurants and bars, and the closure of businesses like gyms and fitness studios.
The head of one BIA told Newstalk 580 CFRA’s “Ottawa Now with Kristy Cameron” restaurateurs felt sidelined by the province imposing restrictions just hours before the Thanksgiving long weekend.
“I really think that we’re in a situation where this thing has spread throughout the community,” said Jasna Jennings, of the ByWard Market BIA. “The businesses said, ‘if you can show us we’re a problem, if the vast majority of cases is tracing back to us, we’re happy to step back’, but that’s not what we’re seeing.”
City Council unanimously passed a motion on Wednesday in support of the OCOBIA’s demands.
Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson said he hopes the province will comply with the BIAs’ demands and show them how they came to the decision to roll Ottawa back to a modified Stage 2.
“We’re looking for those data points that they used to make the determination that we should go back to a quasi-Stage 2 situation,” Watson said. “If we get a better understanding of what makes up their decision-making process, that can be presented to the board of the BIAs, and there may be greater peace of mind that it was the right decision based on the fact they had.”
Watson says his goal now is to ensure funding support promised by the province makes it into the hands of business owners as soon as possible.
Manitoba to give COVID-19 update as new Winnipeg restrictions begin – CTV News Winnipeg
The Manitoba government is set to give an update on COVID-19 cases in the province on Monday, Oct. 19.
Dr. Brent Roussin, chief provincial public health officer, will be speaking at a news conference at 12:30 p.m. at the Manitoba Legislative Building. CTV News Winnipeg will live-stream the event.
This news conference comes as new restrictions take effect in the Winnipeg Metropolitan Region amid growing case numbers. These restrictions include reducing gathering sizes to five people for both indoor and outdoor public and private gatherings, and closing beverage rooms, bars, live entertainment facilities, casinos and bingo halls.
Over the weekend, Manitoba announced 129 new COVID-19 cases – 85 on Saturday and 44 on Sunday, as well as two more deaths. This brings the province’s death toll to 40 people.
Currently, there are 1,675 active cases of the disease in Manitoba, 1,436 of which are in Winnipeg, which is under code orange restrictions.
Since March, there have been 3,302 cases of COVID-19 in Manitoba.
This is a developing story, more details to come.
– With files from CTV’s Danton Unger and Mason DePatie.
New Winnipeg restrictions take effect today
Amid rising COVID-19 case numbers, the Manitoba government has issued more targeted restrictions for the Winnipeg Metropolitan Region, which come into effect on Monday, Oct. 19.
These new rules include:
- Reducing gathering sizes to five people for both indoor and outdoor public and private gatherings. This excludes household members for private gatherings inside a home;
- Closing beverage rooms, bars, live entertainment facilities, casinos and bingo halls;
- Limiting capacity at restaurants and lounges to 50 per cent. Tables can be no more than five people with two-metre distancing;
- Limiting retail businesses to 50 per cent capacity. Food courts and common areas must adhere to the five-person group size limit;
- Reducing the number of spectators at sporting activities and after-school events to 25 per cent of a site’s capacity;
- Reducing capacity at museums, galleries and libraries to 50 per cent. These facilities must also collect all attendees’ contact information; and
- Gyms and fitness centres must collect all attendees contact information. Everyone at a gym or fitness centre must wear a mask, unless they are doing physical activity.
These restrictions will remain in place for two weeks, at which time the province will reassess the rules.
“At two weeks we are going to need to either extend them or draw back – so we want to make it really clear that the intent of this is strictly time-limited,” said Dr. Brent Roussin, chief provincial public health officer, at a news conference on Friday, Oct. 16.
These new restrictions are in addition to the current rules in place for the Winnipeg Metropolitan Region, which includes mandatory masks in all indoor public spaces.
The Winnipeg Metropolitan Region has been under orange or restricted levels on the pandemic response system since Sept. 28.
“These restrictions will all be enforceable under the law,” Roussin said.
“We’ve issued fines in the past when required and we will be looking at ways of stepping up enforcing efforts in the coming weeks.”
As of Sunday, Oct. 18, there are 1,436 active COVID-19 cases in Winnipeg, the highest of any region in the province.
– With files from CTV’s Danton Unger.
Nova Scotia businesses won’t survive another year of COVID-19 restrictions
The Canadian Federation of Independent Business say many Atlantic Canada businesses are on the brink of bankruptcy.
According to their most recent study, 59 percent of Nova Scotia businesses would struggle to survive another year of COVID-19 business restrictions.
Jordi Morgan, Vice President of the Atlantic region for the CFIB, told NEWS 95.7’s The Rick Howe Show that without continued government support, many businesses in the province will slip below the surface, according to research CFIB has been conducting on business revenues ever since the pandemic began.
“In Nova Scotia, we’re looking at about only 33 percent normal or better,” said Morgan of businesses’ revenues compared to before the pandemic began. “So that means the remainder are below that.”
According to Morgan, the sectors most impacted are arts, hospitality and natural resources industries.
He added the most recent figures show 8 percent of businesses in the province are actively considering bankruptcy or winding down.
With the current revenue projections, only about 35 percent of Nova Scotia businesses would survive the year with their current earnings.
Morgan says the provincial government needs to get creative and ease business restrictions to make life easier for buisnesses as they brace for a potential second wave of COVID-19.
Source: – HalifaxToday.ca
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