Canada

The Canada-U.S. border will remain closed until at least Feb. 21 in an effort to curb rising cases of the novel coronavirus, Justin Trudeau said on January 12. The joint restrictions have been in place since March and were mutually agreed upon by both countries. The ban, which does not cover trade or travel by air, has been rolled over several times.

The partial closure restricts crossing to commercial traffic, those returning to their home country, and other essential travel. It bars anyone travelling between the two countries for things like tourism or shopping. Travellers who are allowed into Canada are required to quarantine for 14 days or else face serious penalties.

Source: Global News 


Alberta

Alberta students who have chosen to learn in person will headed back to class on January 11, as originally planned. All other COVID-19 public health measures that are in place will remain in place until at least Jan. 21. The premier, Jason Kenney said Albertans and businesses will be given at least one week’s notice prior to any changes that will affect them, “so they have time plan.”

“We still have not seen the impact of the recent holidays and we will be closely monitoring the spread over the coming weeks to determine whether it is safe to recommend beginning to relax our current approach,” Alberta’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw added. 

Current restrictions put in place in mid-December include a ban on in-person dining and limit grocery and retail stores to 15% of their fire capacity. These restrictions, which went into place on Dec. 13, also forced the closure of personal services like gyms and hair salons. Other measures, which ban both indoor and outdoor gatherings and mandate masks province-wide, were implemented on Dec. 8.

Source: Global News


British Columbia

Restrictions imposed by British Columbia to fight the spread of COVID-19 infections after the holiday break have disrupted work at construction sites of a Rio Tinto hydropower project and BC Hydro’s Site C dam. A total of five major industrial projects in remote northwestern Canada have been affected as the provincial government last week ordered them to stagger the return of their workers after the Christmas holiday break.

BC Hydro’s Site C dam, Rio Tinto’s Kemano T2 hydropower project, the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, TC Energy’s Coastal GasLink pipeline and the Royal Dutch Shell-led LNG Canada project are named in the order. Across the five projects the number of workers will ramp up from a baseline of 1,460 to 4,080 by mid-February.

Provincial health officer Dr Bonnie Henry said a rapid return to full operating capacity after Christmas would likely “fuel and accelerate” the spread of COVID-19 among workers and surrounding communities. 

Source: Insurance Journal 


Quebec

The Quebec government has imposed an overnight curfew and extended the closure of non-essential businesses for a month in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19. Premier François Legault said that many of the stricter measures will be in place for four weeks, until Feb. 8.

The new restrictions, however, did not include any limits on the manufacturing or construction sector, nor a prolonged break for schools — areas that have accounted for a large portion of outbreaks in recent weeks. The curfew was also swiftly criticized by civil liberties groups, who argued the government was infringing on individual freedoms, and experts questioned whether it would help reverse the rise in cases.

New restrictions include: 

  • A provincewide curfew from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m.. There will be exceptions for essential workers and dog walkers near their home. The fine for breaking curfew will be $1,000 to $6,000. 
  • All non-essential workplaces and businesses, including gyms and restaurants, will be closed. Curbside pickup at stores and delivery for restaurants will be allowed.
  • Places of worship must close.
  • Daycares will stay open. Elementary schools will open as planned on Jan. 11, but children in Grades 5 and 6 will be required to wear a mask.
  • High schools will remain closed for another week, opening Jan. 18. High school students and staff will be supplied with two government-issued three-layer disposal paper medical masks per day.
  • Grocery stores and corner stores must close at 7:30 p.m.
  • Indoor and outdoor gatherings with people outside the household are prohibited.

The measures don’t apply to the autonomous northern territory of Nunavik, as well as the James Bay region.

Unlike during the lockdown in the spring, Legault said manufacturing and construction will not be shut down, but he asked them to concentrate on work and goods that are considered “essential.”

More than a quarter of COVID-19 outbreaks in the province’s workplaces were identified in the manufacturing industry during the week ending Dec. 19, according to the most recent government data. Quebec’s public health director, Dr. Horacio Arruda, said most of those outbreaks occurred in the food industry, which cannot be shut down because it is essential.

Source: CBC
Source: Global News
Source: Toronto Star
Source: Global News


Maritimes

On January 5, Premier Blaine Higgs announced additional relief for small businesses in New Brunswick that have been impacted by COVID-19 in the form of a non-repayable grant. “It is crucial that we continue to support businesses that face difficulties, especially when they are impacted by elevated and/or restrictive, but necessary, Public Health measures in either orange or red alert levels,” Higgs said in a statement. This announcement comes after Higgs confirmed that the entire province will step back into the orange COVID-19 recovery phase on January 5 at midnight due to the latest spike of COVID-19 cases.

Through Opportunities New Brunswick, the province said these grants of up to $5,000 will be available for small businesses that have been subject to orange or red alert level measures for at least one week between Oct. 10, 2020, and March 31, 2021. This new support program is in addition to the enhancements being made to the Small Business Emergency Working Capital Program that resulted in more than $17 million being distributed to businesses throughout the province. Further details, such as eligibility requirements and how and where to apply, will be available in the coming weeks, the province said.

Source: Global News


North

Nunavut’s chief public health officer is easing public health measures beginning on January 12 in Arviat and Whale Cove after no new COVID-19 cases have been reported in either community over the past two weeks. On January 11, Dr. Michael Patterson said that travel restrictions will be lifted, although he continues to recommend against non-essential travel. “As well, government offices, most private businesses and schools may reopen,” he said in the release. The limit on indoor gathering is being increased to 10 people in addition to household members, and outdoor gathering limits will increase to 50 people, the news release said.

Patterson said that while this is good news, it will take until the end of the month to declare the outbreak over. As of January 11, there are no active cases of COVID-19 in the territory. 

Source: CBC


Ontario

With Ontario facing dangerously high rates of COVID-19 that threaten more deaths than seen during the first wave, Premier Doug Ford declared a second provincial emergency on January 12 and announced a slate of new restrictions in an effort to bring the virus under control. 

Here are the new restrictions in place effective 12:01 a.m. on January 14:

  • Ontario will be placed under a stay-at-home order, which will require everyone to remain at home with exceptions for essential purposes, like going to the grocery store or pharmacy, accessing health-care services, for exercise or for essential work.
  • There will be no in-class instruction until Feb. 10 at the earliest for the following public health units: Windsor-Essex, Peel Region, Toronto, York Region and Hamilton. 
  • All businesses must ensure that any employee who can work from home does so.
  • Outdoor gatherings are restricted to five people, consistent with the first-wave lockdown rules.
  • Masks remain mandatory indoors at open businesses or organizations. Masks are also now being recommended outdoors where physical distancing of more than two metres is not possible. 
  • All non-essential retail will be forced to close by 8 p.m. and open no earlier than 7 a.m. These limits don’t apply to stores that primarily sell food, gas stations, pharmacies, convenience stores or restaurants providing take-out or delivery.
  • Non-essential construction is further restricted, including below-grade construction, exempting survey.
  • No restrictions on the purchase of non-essential items.

The province says the measures are in effect for all of Ontario and will remain in place until at least Feb. 11. Under the emergency measures, the province says it will give provincial and local police, bylaw officers and provincial workplace inspectors the power to ticket those who don’t comply with the stay-at-home order, those not complying with mask-wearing rules and retailers who don’t enforce those rules. 

There were no new restrictions announced for big-box stores, except for an “inspection blitz” that Ford said could result in consequences for stores that don’t enforce public health measures. Still, groups such as the Canadian Federation of Independent Business call the rules unfair, pointing out stores like Walmart and Costco can continue to sell non-essential goods in-store and through curbside or delivery methods after 8 p.m., while smaller non-essential retailers cannot.

The new restrictions were announced shortly after the province released projections that show the virus is on track to overwhelm Ontario’s health-care system. Dr. Adalsteinn Brown, one of the experts behind the projections, said that if the province’s COVID-19 positivity rate is at 5%, Ontario will see more than 20,000 new cases a day by the middle of next month. If the rate climbs to 7%, that means the province will see 40,000 new daily cases. The projections also indicate deaths from COVID-19 will exceed those in the pandemic’s first wave unless there is a significant reduction in contacts between residents.

Source: CBC
Source: CBC
Source: National Post