Today’s coronavirus news: Ontario is reporting 4,401 COVID cases Monday; 3 more mass immunization clinics open in Toronto; Canada to get 1M vaccine doses this week
The latest coronavirus news from Canada and around the world Monday. This file will be updated throughout the day. Web links to longer stories if available. 10:30 a.m. Quebec is expanding its vaccination program to include people in the Montreal area living with chronic illnesses and some underlying conditions that put them at risk of COVID-19.Beginning today, people who are being treated for certain illnesses can be vaccinated if they get the go-ahead from their doctor.Eligible people include those who are hospitalized for a condition such as heart, kidney or lung disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and some forms of immunosuppression.Read the full story here on the Star.10:29 a.m. A Newfoundland and Labrador health authority is trying to determine if there is community spread of COVID-19 in the western region of the province.The Western Health authority issued a release Sunday evening urging residents of Corner Brook and the Bay of Islands area to get tested even if they don't have symptoms.The plea came after officials reported five cases in the region over the weekend and three others late last week.Read the full story here on the Star. 10:02 a.m. Ontario is reporting 4,401 COVID-19 cases Monday with 15 deaths. The seven-day average is up to a record 3,782 cases daily or 182 weekly per 100,000, and up to 16.7 deaths daily. Labs report 47,929 completed tests, which is very high for a Monday, and 9.5 per cent positivity, the most for a Monday since Jan. 4.Ontario administered 74,722 vaccine doses Sunday, a steep drop from Saturday’s numbers. 333,419 people have both doses and 2.88 million have at least one dose, or 19.5 per cent of the populationLocally, there are 1,282 new cases in Toronto, 772 in Peel, 564 in York Region, 339 in Ottawa and 224 in Durham.9:52 a.m. Premier Doug Ford is set to make an announcement later on Monday with Education Minister Stephen Lecce.The 2:30 p.m. announcement comes on the first day of a postponed spring break for schools.9:44 a.m. (updated) Dr. Eileen de Villa, Toronto's medical officer of health, told the city's board of health on Monday that at the current rate of transmission, the city risks seeing 2,500 daily cases by the end of COVID-19. That far outstrips the worst count during the second wave when the daily number peaked at 1,642, according to de Villa. At the same meeting, she told board members that she hopes to give parents significant notice about schools closures. There is currently a Toronto-specific order closing schools until Apr. 18, which could be extended by de Villa. The city's top doctor said she hoped to inform parents of her decision by Thursday at the latest.De Villa says people are moving around less, but not in all parts in the city. The northwest corner, where there are a lot of essential workers, is one of the exceptions. More affluent neighbourhoods in the centre of the city have reduced mobility.COVID-19 continues to disproportionately impact lower income and racialized residents. 76 per cent of cases were racialized as of Feb. 28, Toronto Public Health reports.9:35 a.m. Canada's second-largest grocery retailer is reinstating a lockdown bonus for workers in areas with renewed stay-at-home orders.Sobeys Inc. says the pay bump is "the right thing to do" and that it will run until the end of mandated lockdowns or until the company determines based on "ever-changing circumstances."The company says the bonus is a temporary program that rewards employees for the amount of time they work during the lockdown period.Sobeys says the more an employee works during the government-mandated lockdown the more they earn, ranging from $10 to $100 more a week.For example, an employee that works a 40-hour work week would earn a $100 bonus that week.The company says the bonus is being paid to front-line workers at Sobeys, Foodland, FreshCo, Farm Boy, Voila by Sobeys, retail support centre employees and certain IGA locations in locked down regions of Quebec.9:25 a.m. 758,882 COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered to date in Toronto. 9:20 a.m. The German government aims to agree on a bill Tuesday that would shift more powers from state to federal authorities to set pandemic restrictions.The country’s decentralized political system has resulted in an often confusing patchwork of rules and regulations to reduce coronavirus infections in Germany’s 16 states.Government spokesperson Steffen Seibert told reporters on Monday that the goal of the bill is to have a single nationwide rule for all areas where there are more than 100 new weekly cases per 100,000 inhabitants. Currently more than half of Germany’s 400 cities and counties have higher infection rates.Some regions in the northern state of Schleswig-Holstein with lower infection rates began reopening open-air dining in cafes and restaurants Monday.The proposed bill would need to be passed by Parliament. Seibert said the government is already in talks with all parties to ensure that happens quickly.One issue
The latest coronavirus news from Canada and around the world Monday. This file will be updated throughout the day. Web links to longer stories if available.
10:30 a.m. Quebec is expanding its vaccination program to include people in the Montreal area living with chronic illnesses and some underlying conditions that put them at risk of COVID-19.
Beginning today, people who are being treated for certain illnesses can be vaccinated if they get the go-ahead from their doctor.
Eligible people include those who are hospitalized for a condition such as heart, kidney or lung disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and some forms of immunosuppression.
Read the full story here on the Star.
10:29 a.m. A Newfoundland and Labrador health authority is trying to determine if there is community spread of COVID-19 in the western region of the province.
The Western Health authority issued a release Sunday evening urging residents of Corner Brook and the Bay of Islands area to get tested even if they don't have symptoms.
The plea came after officials reported five cases in the region over the weekend and three others late last week.
Read the full story here on the Star.
10:02 a.m. Ontario is reporting 4,401 COVID-19 cases Monday with 15 deaths. The seven-day average is up to a record 3,782 cases daily or 182 weekly per 100,000, and up to 16.7 deaths daily. Labs report 47,929 completed tests, which is very high for a Monday, and 9.5 per cent positivity, the most for a Monday since Jan. 4.
Ontario administered 74,722 vaccine doses Sunday, a steep drop from Saturday’s numbers. 333,419 people have both doses and 2.88 million have at least one dose, or 19.5 per cent of the population
Locally, there are 1,282 new cases in Toronto, 772 in Peel, 564 in York Region, 339 in Ottawa and 224 in Durham.
9:52 a.m. Premier Doug Ford is set to make an announcement later on Monday with Education Minister Stephen Lecce.
The 2:30 p.m. announcement comes on the first day of a postponed spring break for schools.
9:44 a.m. (updated) Dr. Eileen de Villa, Toronto's medical officer of health, told the city's board of health on Monday that at the current rate of transmission, the city risks seeing 2,500 daily cases by the end of COVID-19. That far outstrips the worst count during the second wave when the daily number peaked at 1,642, according to de Villa.
At the same meeting, she told board members that she hopes to give parents significant notice about schools closures. There is currently a Toronto-specific order closing schools until Apr. 18, which could be extended by de Villa. The city's top doctor said she hoped to inform parents of her decision by Thursday at the latest.
De Villa says people are moving around less, but not in all parts in the city. The northwest corner, where there are a lot of essential workers, is one of the exceptions. More affluent neighbourhoods in the centre of the city have reduced mobility.
COVID-19 continues to disproportionately impact lower income and racialized residents. 76 per cent of cases were racialized as of Feb. 28, Toronto Public Health reports.
9:35 a.m. Canada's second-largest grocery retailer is reinstating a lockdown bonus for workers in areas with renewed stay-at-home orders.
Sobeys Inc. says the pay bump is "the right thing to do" and that it will run until the end of mandated lockdowns or until the company determines based on "ever-changing circumstances."
The company says the bonus is a temporary program that rewards employees for the amount of time they work during the lockdown period.
Sobeys says the more an employee works during the government-mandated lockdown the more they earn, ranging from $10 to $100 more a week.
For example, an employee that works a 40-hour work week would earn a $100 bonus that week.
The company says the bonus is being paid to front-line workers at Sobeys, Foodland, FreshCo, Farm Boy, Voila by Sobeys, retail support centre employees and certain IGA locations in locked down regions of Quebec.
9:25 a.m. 758,882 COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered to date in Toronto.
9:20 a.m. The German government aims to agree on a bill Tuesday that would shift more powers from state to federal authorities to set pandemic restrictions.
The country’s decentralized political system has resulted in an often confusing patchwork of rules and regulations to reduce coronavirus infections in Germany’s 16 states.
Government spokesperson Steffen Seibert told reporters on Monday that the goal of the bill is to have a single nationwide rule for all areas where there are more than 100 new weekly cases per 100,000 inhabitants. Currently more than half of Germany’s 400 cities and counties have higher infection rates.
Some regions in the northern state of Schleswig-Holstein with lower infection rates began reopening open-air dining in cafes and restaurants Monday.
The proposed bill would need to be passed by Parliament. Seibert said the government is already in talks with all parties to ensure that happens quickly.
One issue still being discussed is whether to make testing for COVID-19 compulsory in the workplace. The pro-business Free Democratic Party, which co-governs in some German states, opposes this requirement.
Germany’s disease control agency reported 13,245 newly confirmed cases on Monday, taking the total number of known COVID-19 infections since the start of the pandemic above 3 million. The Robert Koch Institute said there were 99 additional deaths, raising the total tally to 78,452.
9:05 a.m. The federal government is expecting Moderna to make good on a previously promised batch of 855,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses that were expected last week, but have yet to arrive.
Those delayed doses along with a little more than one million shots of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine represent the extent of Canada’s expected vaccine deliveries this week, even as the number of new COVID-19 cases across Canada continues to surge.
Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, the military officer overseeing the federal government’s vaccination distribution effort, blamed the delay in Moderna’s planned delivery on a “backlog with quality assurance."
“It's part of the manufacturing process, at the tail end of the manufacturing process, that they want to go through the proper quality assurance processes, and there's a backlog,” he said last week.
Officials have indicated there could be a similar delay in the delivery of 1.2 million doses from Moderna next week.
“It’s prudent planning on our part right now to bank on the last week of April,” Fortin said.
In comparison, Pfizer-BioNTech has been consistently delivering more than 1 million shots to Canada each week for more than a month, a trend that is expected to continue for the foreseeable future.
The Public Health Agency is not expecting any shots of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine this week. Canada has also approved a vaccine produced by Johnson & Johnson, but it is not clear when the first of those doses will be delivered.
8:50 a.m. The way Ted Fragiskos sees it, the way folks in St. Catharines rallied to step up and help his pizzeria that was the target of vicious messages and negative reviews on the weekend is proof that people in the Garden City take care of their own.
Fragiskos, who runs Rollin’ Pizza at a strip mall on Lake Street, along with his wife Jennifer, was forced to close the pizzeria for several hours on Saturday after hundreds of anti-lockdown people filled the strip mall parking lot, defying the new provincial stay-at-home order.
Fragiskos said numerous people from the rally, almost all not wearing masks and crowding tightly together, entered his pizzeria.
“They were coming in in groups, without masks and using the bathrooms and blocking doorways,” he said.
Some of the people entering the pizzeria became combative over the need for masks, a reflection of some of the conspiracy theory beliefs among at least some: one person at the rally held a sign suggesting physical distancing isn’t based on science and saying keeping people six feet apart is “a made-up number to better track and trace us.”
To protect his staff, Fragiskos was forced to close his doors for several hours.
That didn’t sit well with some of the protesters, who bombarded the pizzeria with nasty emails and messages, and posted poor reviews online as payback.
“We had people wishing we’d close forever, calling us sheep and mindless,” said Fragiskos. “We got some pretty nasty ones.”
He said it was ironic that the goal of the rally was supposed to be showing support for small businesses hurting under shifting rules and restrictions during the pandemic, but it forced a number of those same small businesses in the strip mall to close.
“It wasn’t fair for the businesses,” he said. “This was supposed to be about helping small business, but it really hurt small business.”
8:40 a.m. (updated) There are now 612 patients with COVID-related critical illness now in Ontario ICUs with 62 new patients admitted over the last 24 hours.
Six adults are in the paediatric hospital ICU.
8:30 a.m. The numbers aren’t pretty for the aviation industry.
The Greater Toronto Airports Authority (GTAA), which operates Toronto Pearson Airport, underwent a major restructuring in 2020, laying off 500 people as a result of financial losses due to the pandemic.
“We have seen a significant impact on our net income,” said Lorrie McKee, director of public affairs and stakeholder relations with the GTAA, explaining that the airport was down $266 million in the third quarter.
In the past year, the airport has seen a loss of $823 million in revenue.
The restructuring resulted in a 27-per-cent reduction in staff, and air passenger traffic is down 88 per cent.
“Pearson has been a significant generator of jobs and spending across the region,” McKee said in a presentation to Peel Regional council.
She and colleague Dwayne Macintosh, director of safety and security, gave an update on how one of the city’s key economic drivers is doing during the pandemic.
In 2019, Pearson airport supported 25,000 jobs across the GTA and, so far, 13,500 jobs at businesses that support the airport have been lost.
8:20 a.m. Toronto police issued 88,142 speeding tickets and 796 stunt driving charges in the first 10 months of the COVID-19 pandemic, new data shows.
Those are increases of 151 per cent and 222 per cent respectively, compared to 2019, where 35,051 speeding tickets and 247 stunt driving charges were issued between March 1 and Dec. 31.
“It’s disheartening and it’s scary,” said Sgt. Jason Kraft of the traffic services unit. “It’s both dangerous and illegal to be travelling at the speeds we’re seeing.”
One of the things police have seen more of during the pandemic are car meetups; videos of these takeover events have popped up on social media, with one recently happening in North York over the Easter weekend.
The viral video showed at one point an individual pouring a lit, flammable liquid at an intersection so that a driver could perform doughnuts in a ring of fire.
Police said more than 100 people gathered that night on April 4, and as officers responded, the crowds dispersed to several other locations. Police were met with hostility and two cruisers were damaged.
Joshua Goodale-Chapman, 19, faces several charges including dangerous operation of a conveyance and stunt driving.
A vehicle allegedly used in the incident has been impounded. Two other suspects are wanted, and the investigation remains ongoing.
8:15 a.m. India reported another record daily surge in coronavirus infections Monday to overtake Brazil as the second-worst hit country.
The 168,912 cases added in the last 24 hours pushed India's total since the pandemic began to 13.5 million, while Brazil has 13.4 million, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.
India also reported 904 deaths in the past 24 hours, taking its total to 170,179, which is the fourth-highest toll, behind the United States, Brazil and Mexico.
India is experiencing its worst surge of the pandemic, with a seven-day rolling average of more than 130,000 cases per day. Hospitals across the country are becoming overwhelmed with patients, and experts worry the worst is yet to come.
The latest surge also coincides with the shortage of vaccines in some Indian states, including western Maharashtra state, home to financial capital Mumbai, which is the worst hit state and has recorded nearly half of the country’s new infections in the past two weeks.
8:05 a.m. Bilal Abdul Kader, president and founder of the As-Salam mosque in downtown Montreal, said his mosque has been serving meals during the holy month of Ramadan for 15 years.
The Iftar evening meal, when Muslims break the daily Ramadan fast, has offered a chance for mosque members to come together and share food with the broader community and people in need, he said in a recent interview.
Iftar "has a religious aspect, a social dimension, and of course, a personal sense, because when Muslims share their meals with someone else, they get double the reward of the fast itself," Abdul Kader said.
But this year, like the year before, Iftar will be a takeaway meal at the As-Salam mosque because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
With the second Ramadan of the pandemic likely beginning on Tuesday, Canadian Muslims say they're approaching the holiest time of the year with a mixture of sadness and hope.
Ramadan is normally a time for self-improvement, for getting together with others to pray and for a "joyous sharing" of meals, Boufeldja Benabdallah, co-founder and spokesman of the Islamic Cultural Centre in Quebec City, said in a recent interview.
Normally, he said, Muslims do supplemental prayers that can last until 11 p.m. during the holy month. That likely won't be possible this year due to government-imposed measures intended to contain the spread of the virus.
7:50 a.m. New supply issues of the COVID-19 vaccine will force York Region to close four of its vaccination clinics this week, including the drive-thru site at Canada’s Wonderland.
The Town of Georgina’s clinic and two physician-led clinics are also affected by new delays in the Moderna shipment for York Region, which had been expected to arrive Monday.
“Since the beginning of York Region’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout, our efforts have been contingent on the vaccine supply,” said Patrick Casey, the region’s director of corporate communications.
“Regrettably, we are now facing an imminent and serious reduction in vaccines,” he added.
“Due directly to this delay, we are now unable to accommodate many of the newly announced eligibility groups outlined this week by the provincial government, including offering COVID-19 vaccines to residents between the ages of 60 and 64.”
The health department will also reduce the hours of operation at the remaining three public-health clinics, effective Monday, which will remain in place until additional vaccine supply is received.
Hospital-led COVID-19 vaccination clinics are not affected, primarily due to their reliance on the Pfizer vaccine.
7:45 a.m. People across Britain flocked to shed shaggy locks and browse for clothes, books and other “non-essential” items as shops, gyms, hairdressers, restaurant patios and beer gardens reopened Monday after months of lockdown.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson urged people to “behave responsibly” as the country that has had Europe's deadliest coronavirus outbreak took a big step on its roadmap toward a resumption of normal life.
Monday brought the easing of restrictions that have been in place in England since early January to suppress a surge in infections linked to a more transmissible new virus variant first identified in the southeast of the country.
Long lines formed outside some stores, including a branch of Nike Town on London’s busy Oxford Street, and pubs and restaurants with outdoor space reported a flood of bookings.
Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the British Retail Consortium, said businesses that have endured months of enforced closure were “excited and desperate” to welcome customers back.
At a hairdresser in Birmingham, customer Amy Smith said she was thrilled to be getting a trim at last.
“It’s great to be here, I’ve been going with this weird little topknot for a few months now,” she said. “I’m going to a go to a beer garden experience later, so it’s going to be good.”
Many people were planning outdoor meals and drinks, despite unseasonably cold weather that brought springtime snow flurries to many areas — including, briefly, London.
7:35 a.m. Tim Sauvé has few memories of the hours before he was wheeled into a Toronto operating room for a double-lung transplant.
Weak and in pain, his lungs irreversibly damaged from COVID-19, Sauvé understood little except that the surgery offered a final chance at life.
The then-60-year-old had been in hospital since mid-December after collapsing in his Mississauga condo the same day he tested positive for COVID-19. Though he had survived the viral infection, the disease had ravaged his lungs and a sophisticated life support machine was keeping him alive.
“I was praying I’d be a good candidate for a transplant and tried to have hope up until the last moments,” Sauvé told the Star. “I didn’t know until after I woke up that I was the first.”
Physicians at University Health Network believe Sauvé is the first person in Canada to receive a double-lung transplant after becoming ill with COVID-19.
Read the full story from the Star’s Megan Ogilvie
7:20 a.m. Business owners in Old Montreal will be assessing the damage this morning after an anti-curfew protest turned violent.
Hundreds gathered in defiance of an 8 p.m. curfew that took effect in Montreal and Laval Sunday night.
The mostly young crowd danced to music from loudspeakers while lighting fireworks and chanting, "freedom for the young."
However, the festive atmosphere quickly soured as a few protesters lit a garbage fire in Montreal's Jacques Cartier Square.
Police fired tear gas and rushed the crowd, prompting dozens of protesters to scatter and cause mayhem down the cobblestone streets of Montreal’s historic tourist district.
Some protesters lit garbage fires at many intersections and seized projectiles from city streets, hurling them at nearby windows and shattering many.
A police spokeswoman said seven arrests were made, though there was no immediate word on charges, and that 107 tickets were issued for public health infractions.
The spokeswoman said police were still investigating possible incidents of mischief, arson, breaking and entering, and obstruction of police.
7:10 a.m. Toronto is opening three more mass immunization sites Monday: Carmine Stefano Community Centre, Cloverdale Mall and North Toronto Memorial Community Centre, in addition to the six existing clinics.
7:05 a.m. Ontario hospitals will start ramping down elective surgeries and non-urgent procedures Monday to ensure they have the capacity to treat more COVID-19 patients.
Health Minister Christine Elliott said Friday that could increase intensive-care unit capacity in Ontario by up to 1,000 patient beds.
The province reported on Sunday that 605 people were in ICU.
Ontario also said that there were 4,456 new COVID-19 cases in the province on Sunday, marking a new single-day high for new infections.
Hospitals in northern Ontario are exempt from cancelling non-urgent procedures but a memo from Ontario Health on Thursday night said they should prepare to ramp down quickly in the near future.
The memo also asked hospitals to identify staff who may be redeployed to other sites if necessary.
7 a.m. The recent flood of COVID-19 vaccine doses into Canada is expected to wane this week, with a little more than 1 million shots scheduled for delivery over the next seven days.
Canada has fielded vaccine deliveries from various pharmaceutical firms in recent weeks amid dramatic spikes in COVID-19 case counts across the country.
Yet the Public Health Agency of Canada says the only shipment expected this week will come from Pfizer and BioNTech, which have been consistently delivering more than 1 million doses each week since March.
While Canada received more than a million combined doses of the Moderna and Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines last week, the Public Health Agency is not expecting any of either over the next seven days.
Moderna, which delivers shots every two weeks, is scheduled to ship more than 1.2 million doses to Canada the week of April 19.
Canada has also approved a vaccine produced by Johnson and Johnson, but it is not clear when the first of those doses will be delivered.
The federal government is hoping this week's lull in deliveries will be the exception, with Public Procurement Minister Anita Anand promising on Friday that millions more shots are on their way in the coming weeks and months.
"We are accelerating rapidly in terms of our deliveries," Anand said. "We have moved 22 million doses from later quarters to earlier quarters in the year, including ... 44 million doses expected prior to the end of June.”
The rush to get vaccines into Canadians' arms has grown more urgent as Canada continues to see a massive spike in the number of new COVID-19 infections.
Thousands of new cases were reported on Sunday, including a record 4,456 in Ontario alone. Dr. Theresa Tam, the country's chief medical health officer, noted admissions to intensive care units surged 23 per cent last week compared to the one before.
Tam said many of those getting sick are younger than in previous COVID-19 surges, which experts have blamed on virus variants that are spreading across the country.
That has prompted some provinces to start looking at changes to how they are distributing their vaccines.
More than 10 million doses had been distributed across Canada as of Sunday afternoon, according to covid19tracker.ca, with nearly 8 million having been administered.
6:55 a.m. Yukon residents head to the polls today, marking the fifth election in Canada since the COVID-19 pandemic began.
The Yukon Liberals were elected in 2016 with a majority government, only their second ever.
Liberal Leader Sandy Silver says now is not the time to change course, and a vote for his party would ensure stability.
Yukon Party Leader Currie Dixon, whose party ran the territory for 14 years before the last election, says he would follow through on election promises -- unlike his Liberal opponent.
The NDP and leader Kate White have pitched themselves as the progressive alternative to their two rivals.
White says the pandemic has highlighted gaps in equality, and an NDP government would freeze rents and improve access to health care.
6:41 a.m. A Canada Post employee working in Toronto has died after they contracted COVID-19.
The Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW) confirmed the news Sunday, saying that “an outbreak was declared last week at the South Central Letter Processing Plant where the deceased member worked.”
Thirteen other employees tested positive for the virus over a 14-day period which is what began rapid testing at the facility.
“I know I speak for all CUPW members when I share my deepest condolences and heartfelt sympathies to the member’s family, friends, and co-workers, and respect their privacy during this difficult time,” said Jan Simpson, National President of the CUPW.
Read the full story from the Star’s Breanna Xavier-Carter
6:30 a.m. Niklas Edin's fifth world men's curling title was memorable not only because
of the history the Swede made.
That he and his teammates were able to play in a final Sunday for a third straight crown — another men's curling record — made achieving both milestones feel even sweeter.
Sweden doubled Scotland's Bruce Mouat 10-5 in the championship game in Calgary.
The 2021 BKT Tires and OK Tire World Men's Curling Championship reached the finish line late Sunday night despite four participants, including an athlete on a playoff team, testing positive for COVID-19.
None showed symptoms of the coronavirus. No games were played Saturday while mass testing was carried out. Alberta Health approved the resumption of Sunday's playoffs.
"Obviously super, super happy we could keep playing," Edin said. "It would have felt so awkward if the event had just ended and medals are going somewhere because of a round robin.
"That just wouldn't have been fair. That wouldn't have felt good. I'm really happy we could play today."
Edin and his third Oscar Erikkson are the only two men to win five world championships. Along with second Rasmus Wranaa and lead Christoffer Sundgren, they were the first team to win three in a row.
Canada's only large-scale sports events since the global pandemic descended just over a year ago have been the world junior men's hockey championship and last year's NHL playoffs in Edmonton, and Calgary's run of seven curling competitions with four now complete.
The men's championship's final day reflected the varying levels of risk tolerance around the virus clashing with a desire for sport to happen.
The athlete who competed Sunday had tested positive in an "exit" test in preparation to leave the curling bubble. His subsequent test Saturday was negative.
The WCF initially barred the athlete from competing Sunday and then allowed him on the ice.
His full vaccination before arriving in Canada, and the argument he posed little risk to teammates and opponents, were the WCF's justifications for the reversal.
6:15 a.m. As the pandemic enters a third wave, Toronto’s downtown office vacancies have hit a 13-year high of 9.1 per cent, according to a first quarter report from CBRE.
It shows that vacancies are up nearly two per cent since the final quarter of 2020 with rents falling about a dollar to $34.88 per sq. ft. for Class A space in the same period.
It’s the highest office vacancy rate since 2008, when Toronto’s downtown hit 9.5 per cent in the second quarter of the year.
But there are signs the trend is moderating. With the rollout of vaccines, businesses are beginning to make plans to bring their employees back to the office, said Jon Ramscar, managing director of the commercial real estate company.
“Whilst we’ve seen rising vacancy, which is predominantly from sublets, through the pandemic, we’ve actually seen that stabilize in the first quarter of this year. We’ve seen tour activity pick up significantly,” he said.
Read the full story from the Star’s Tess Kalinowski
5:36 a.m. The Ontario government intends for schools to be open for in-person learning following the April break, Ontario Minister of Education Stephen Lecce confirmed in a letter issued to the province’s parents Sunday afternoon.
All publicly funded and private elementary and secondary schools will be open for in-person learning despite the province’s stay-at-home order, except in regions that have directed schools to move to remote learning, Lecce wrote.
Despite in-person classes being omitted from the stay-at-home order, Toronto and Peel regions have moved students to remote learning in the face of growing COVID-19 cases. Regions have the authority to move schools to virtual learning on their own, without permission from the province.
Read the full story from the Star’s Jenna Moon
5:35 a.m. Denmark’s Health Minister declared Monday “the big vaccine day," with 100,000 people to be vaccinated in one day as officials test the system ahead of a June rollout where four times as many people as that will be vaccinated each day.
The shots will be given in 68 inoculation centres across the country of nearly 6 million. The number will be lower Tuesday.
Minister Magnus Heunicke said Danes will “set a new record,” and urged people to arrive on time and have high spirits.
The bulk of the vaccination will be in Copenhagen and surroundings, where one-third of the population lives.
At the Oeksnehallen exhibition centre in downtown Copenhagen where makeshift vaccination booths have been installed inside the building that once housed cattle to be slaughtered, the plan is to inoculate 6,000 people.
“There will be no breaks and it will run continuously with people taking turns,” head of the Oeksnehallen vaccination centre Lone Munk Andersen told broadcaster TV2. “There should not be a single booth empty.”
So far 868,461 people, or nearly 15% of the population, have received the first shot and 445,566 people, or nearly 8%, have had both.
Soeren Riis Paludan, a professor of virology with the Aarhus University in Denmark’s second largest city told Danish broadcaster DR that when Danes get vaccinated “the basis for shutting down society will soon disappear.”
5:32 a.m. Tens of thousands of Hindu devotees gathered by the Ganges River for special prayers Monday, many of them flouting social distancing practices as the coronavirus spreads in India with record speed.
The Kumbh Mela, or pitcher festival, is one of the most sacred pilgrimages in Hinduism. The faithful congregate in the northern city of Haridwar and take a dip in the waters of the Ganges, which they believe will absolve them of their sins and deliver them from the cycle of birth and death.
The Kumbh Mela, which runs through April, comes during India's worst surge in new infections since the pandemic began, with a seven-day rolling average of more than 130,000 new cases per day. Hospitals are becoming overwhelmed with patients, and experts worry the worst is yet to come.
Critics of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party say the festival has been allowed at a time when infections are skyrocketing because the government isn't willing to anger Hindus, who are the party's biggest supporters.
With the surge showing no sign of slowing, India’s confirmed infections since the pandemic began surpassed Brazil’s total on Monday to make it the second-worst hit country in the world.
The current surge has hit hardest in Western Maharashtra state, home to the financial capital Mumbai. The state has accounted for nearly half of the country’s new infections in the past two weeks.
Amid concerns the Kumbh Mela festival could turn into a superspreader event, Uttarakhand state’s chief minister, Tirath Singh Rawat, last week said “the faith in God will overcome the fear of the virus.”
Health experts had appealed for the festival to be cancelled, but the government went ahead saying safety rules would be followed. There are concerns that pilgrims could get infected and then take the virus back to their cities and villages in other parts of the country.
Authorities in Haridwar said the length of the festival has been shortened from previous years, but it has been extremely difficult to implement social distancing measures. Coronavirus tests are mandatory for those entering the area.
“We are continuously appealing to people to follow COVID-19 appropriate behaviour. But due to the huge crowd, it is practically not possible,” senior police officer Sanjay Gunjyal said.
Government critics have compared the government’s response to the festival to the response last year when Indian Muslims faced rising Islamophobia following accusations that an initial surge in infections was tied to a three-day meeting of an Islamic missionary group, the Tablighi Jamaat, in New Delhi.
Some leaders from Modi’s party and India’s freewheeling TV channels, which have long favoured the government’s Hindu-nationalist policies, labeled Muslims as “jihadis” and “super spreaders” in March 2020 when the seven-day rolling average of coronavirus cases in the country was not even 200 per day. The blame triggered a wave of violence, business boycotts and hate speech toward Muslims.
Monday 5:30 a.m. High schools have reopened in Greece to students in the final three grades with the mandatory use of test kits for COVID-19 being rolled out across the country to help with mass screening for infections, with an eye to further reopening the economy and tourism.
Students from grades 10 to 12 were allowed to return to class Monday — most for the first time in five months — if they provided a negative test result using the kits being distributed at pharmacies. Some teachers chose to hold classes outdoors.
Students in other grades continued online classes.
The kits “are a valuable screening tool,” Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said. “Some 613 students and teachers were found to be positive, most of them showing no symptoms, and are staying at home and not exposing their classmates and colleagues to danger.”
Greece’s centre-right government is keen to start reopening the economy and its crucial tourism industry after lockdown measures were imposed in early November. But the rate of infections and death has remained high since early February, with mortality currently above the European Union average.
Self-test kits are being made available on a weekly basis at no charge to all residents registered with the public health service, with the use to be made mandatory for workers in various sectors including food delivery and retail.
The government plans to officially launch the tourism season in mid-May. With less than 7% of the population fully vaccinated, the government has promised to ramp up its campaign through the rest of April.
Sunday 9:40 p.m.: Hundreds of people gathered in Old Montréal tonight in defiance of a new 8 p.m. curfew.
The curfew had been at 9:30 p.m. but Quebec's premier advanced it as a preventive measure because COVID-19 cases had risen sharply over the past week.
The mostly young crowd danced to music from loudspeakers, lit fireworks and chanted, "freedom for the young."
But the festive atmosphere quickly turned violent as a few protesters lit a garbage fire in Montreal's Jacques Cartier Square, which was met with tear gas from riot police.
Soon after police rushed the crowd, dozens of protesters scattered to create mayhem down the cobblestone streets of Montreal’s tourist district.
Read Sunday’s COVID-19 news