The latest on the coronavirus outbreak for June 9


Police personnel wearing a Covid-19 coronavirus-themed helmets, shields and batons stand in formation as they take part in awareness campaign against the pandemic at a traffic junction in Hyderabad, India on Wednesday. (Noah Seelam/AFP/Getty Images)

Fully vaccinated Canadians will soon be able to skip hotel quarantine stay

The federal government says fully vaccinated Canadians and permanent residents crossing the border into Canada will no longer be required to stay at a hotel for part of their quarantine period beginning in early July.

Health Minister Patty Hajdu said on Wednesday that the government is hoping to ease some restrictions in stages. She said those fully vaccinated Canadians and permanent residents will still have to take a COVID-19 test on arrival and have an isolation plan until their test comes back negative.

“We’ll be watching carefully here in Canada and around the world as cases change and as vaccination rates rise,” she said.

This relaxation of the rules applies only to Canadian citizens who have obtained both doses of a COVID-19 vaccine approved by Health Canada. It does not apply to tourists.

Sources not being named by CBC because they are not authorized to speak publicly about the issue said that more details about lifting restrictions for the wider population are still pending.

On Feb. 22, the federal government started requiring all air travellers returning from non-essential trips abroad to isolate in federally mandated facilities for up to 72 hours while they await the results of polymerase chain reaction tests — commonly known as PCR tests — for COVID-19.

People arriving at land borders are required to take COVID-19 tests when they enter the country and again during their 14-day isolation period.

The federal government’s COVID-19 testing and screening expert advisory panel recently had several criticisms for the travel mitigation efforts in a report, citing inconsistencies in the treatment of land and air travellers and the fact the Canadians could opt out of the hotel stays for a price.

The panel’s report is advising the federal government to develop some kind of proof-of-vaccination certificate “as soon as possible.”

The federal government a few days after the report announced that international air passengers who decline to take their required COVID-19 tests or who refuse to check into a quarantine hotel could be hit with a $5,000 fine for each offence, up from $3,000.

From The National

Canada’s hard-hit tourism industry is looking for clarity on when the U.S.-Canada border will reopen. But while they’re raring to go, they need enough time to prepare. 2:00

IN BRIEF

At least 7 million Moderna doses will arrive before end of June, federal government says

Moderna will ship seven million more vaccine doses to Canada this month, ending weeks of uncertainty over when the Massachusetts-based company would deliver the long-promised order.

Moderna has delivered 6.1 million doses to Canada already, but has routinely slashed deliveries or punted them to later dates since the beginning of the year, causing provincial and regional officials to be nimble in administering their vaccine campaigns. Starting next week, Public Services and Procurement Minister Anita Anand said Wednesday, the deliveries will start to stabilize.

“To be clear, that is the minimum number of doses that we anticipate receiving in that timeframe,” Anand said of the seven million.

Moderna has earmarked all U.S. production of its doses for the American marketplace until now, with Canada’s previous batches coming from their European facilities.

But the U.S. is now awash in shots and demand for doses there is declining. So, for the first time, Moderna will be shipping its product to Canada from U.S.-based plants.

“Moderna will continue working hard to help protect Canadians from COVID and its variants,” a spokesperson said in a statement.

Two days ago, the company said it had applied for emergency authorization use for its vaccine in adolescents after positive trial data. Should it get approved by Health Canada, Moderna would join Pfizer-BioNTech as the vaccines deemed suitable for use in Canadians as young as 12.

Meanwhile, Anand said that between planned Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine shipments, a total of 55.8 million vaccine doses is expected to be delivered to Canada between now and the end of July.

Read more details from the federal public health briefing

Manitoba to give nearly $2M in prizes to people who get vaccinated

The Conservative government in Manitoba is teaming up with the provincial lottery agency to encourage more vaccinations, to the tune of $1.9 million in cash and scholarships.

The prizes will be awarded in two draws — one for people who get their first dose by Aug. 2, and another for those who get their second by Sept. 6. Anyone 12 and older who gets a vaccine will automatically become eligible to win.

“We need Manitobans to get vaccinated. The sooner we get vaccinated, the sooner we get our lives back. This lottery gives Manitobans a reason to move faster to roll up their sleeves, not once but twice,” said Premier Brian Pallister as he made the announcement alongside Manitoba Liquor & Lotteries president and CEO Manny Atwal.

While those 12 and 17 can win one of 20 scholarships, those over 18 will be eligible for one of seven $100,000 cash prizes. The cash prizes will be allocated so that winners are not concentrated in one or two regions.

The development comes on the heels of the province announcing last week it would provide up to $1 million for grants of up to $20,000 that groups can use to reach out to people hesitant about getting a COVID-19 vaccine.

It is also the first extensive lottery initiative tied to vaccination in Canada, following similar schemes in Ohio and California, among other U.S. states.

Manitoba’s vaccination rate for first doses among eligible people 12 and older is at 66.7 per cent, as of Tuesday.

That number is considerably lower in some areas of the province, particularly in the southern Manitoba health districts of Stanley (14.9 per cent), Winkler (28.2 per cent) and Hanover (33 per cent).

Read more about the plan

Majority of people in Sask. hospitals with COVID-19 in May were unvaccinated or recently vaccinated

Of Saskatchewan’s 5,296 reported COVID-19 cases in May, 91.9 per cent involved people who were unvaccinated or whose vaccine doses hadn’t fully kicked in yet, provincial officials said Tuesday.

Breaking down the numbers further, it was reported that 155 of 191 hospitalizations were unvaccinated or had received their first dose less than three weeks before admission. The intensive card wards comprised 40 persons who hadn’t been vaccinated, six who received their first shot within the preceding three weeks and none who were fully vaccinated.

The data squares with the experience of Saskatchewan intensive care specialist Dr. Hassan Masri.

“This is very profound — we’re not seeing anyone land in the hospital here in Saskatchewan with those vaccinations,” Masri told CBC News.

But he also said it highlights that people can’t eschew masks and distancing just because they’ve recently received a first dose.

“It’s important to know that the vaccine is not an instantaneous switch,” Masri said. “If someone is exposed to COVID-19 within those two to three weeks, then they very well might land in the hospital or, if things are worse, they may land in the ICU.”

While the link between vaccination and relative health seems clear, it doesn’t appear a vaccination lottery is in the offing anytime soon in Saskatchewan. The NDP has called on the province to launch a $25,000 lottery for residents who are fully vaccinated.

“We’re not looking at any incentive programs right now,” Paul Merriman said at Saskatchewan’s COVID-19 news conference on Tuesday.

As of Tuesday, 68 per cent of Saskatchewan residents aged 18 and over had received a first dose of COVID-19 vaccine — two percentage points shy of the threshold for the province to set a date for the third phase of reopening, which would see most remaining public health restrictions lifted.

Read more about the pandemic in Saskatchewan

Stay informed with the latest COVID-19 data.

AND FINALLY…

Restaurants paying up, not being choosy when it comes to prepping for reopenings 

Vancouver restaurant owner Paul Grunberg says all of his staff came back after the first lockdown. But after the recent circuit breaker shutdown, only half returned. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

In May, there were still 364,000 fewer people working in the accommodation and food services sector compared to February 2020, according to Statistics Canada’s labour force survey.

As restrictions begin to lift in some parts of the country, restaurants are dusting off their patios or reopening their dining rooms and calling back staff — but not all employees are returning.

When Toronto Italian restaurant Oretta opens its patio on Friday, there will still be some gaps in its staffing — so management will help serve customers.

“I honestly thought that we were going to be overwhelmed by applications,” said Oretta bar manager Alessandro Aureli.

Instead, he said, “it’s been a struggle to find new hirings.” Aureli said some people are re-evaluating their careers and lifestyles, while others are concerned about their health and safety as the pandemic continues.

Lora Pankova, general manager of Cibo Wine Bar in downtown Toronto, said that at a recent job fair, those who interviewed positively were told on the spot they’d landed a job, a change from the restaurant’s pre-pandemic selectivity.

In addition to Canadians who may be swearing off restaurant work during a pandemic, the pool of workers from international students has also dwindled, said Emad Yacoub, president of Glowbal Group, which operates nine restaurants in the Vancouver area.

Yacoub said he’s using headhunters to expand his search for staff.

“This year is going to cost almost $150,000 [in] recruiting fees, to get people from outside of the province,” he said.

Paul Grunberg, owner and operator of several restaurants in the Vancouver area, including Caffe la Tana, Osteria, Savio Volpe and Pepino’s Spaghetti House, had to lay off 60 staff in March. About half are choosing not to return.

While some applicants who do want to work in restaurants could have their pick of employers, customers will likely feel the effects.

“If you were paying 40 bucks for that steak pre-COVID, that same steak is going to be $45,” said Grunberg.

Read more about the situation 

Find out more about COVID-19

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