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COVID-19

Edmonton dogs can go off leash-their owners must keep social distancing

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Following in the footsteps of the Alberta government’s plan to start a stage opening, Edmonton announced on Friday that off-leash pets will once again be permitted in designated Edmonton dog parks.

“As of sunrise tomorrow, dogs can off-leash at all 38 dog parks,” Interim City Manager Adam Laughlin said of Friday

“The city has heard loud and clear that Edmontonians miss their usual practice in the dog parks.”

The city’s four fenced dog parks will remain closed for now, and Laughlin said their reopening date will depend on how things go at the unfenced parks.

“Compliance has not been a significant issue so we’re pleased to let most off-leash parks serve their intended purpose,” Laughlin said.

City officials are also in touch with provincial counterparts to determine which local outdoor activities will be included in stage 1 of the relaunch plan, estimated to be as early as May 14.

Mayor Don Iveson said the city’s approach to relaunch will be the same as the province’s, in that authorities will constantly monitor health outcomes to determine whether to scale back or relax measures. “We expect there to be starts and stops and short of a vaccine, of course, there really is no magic button we can hit to turn everything back on immediately,” he said.

As of sunrise tomorrow, dogs can off-leash at all 38 dog parks Edmonton announced on Friday

Iveson also sounded a warning about the city’s dire economic position. “Existing fiscal tools are not sufficient to back-fill operating shortfalls, especially for essential services like transit,” he said. “We continue to struggle in this area so as we slowly relaunch, we will be keeping a close eye on the effect on transit in particular.”

Alberta government’s stage re-opening plan.

 

COVID-19

Canada to get 1 million vaccine doses this week with only Pfizer delivery scheduled

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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 and said the Canada is approaching the peak of the current pandemic wave.

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.

Almost 20 per cent of the population has received at least one shot.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 12, 2021.

Lee Berthiaume, The Canadian Press

 

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COVID-19

Hundreds defy Montreal’s 8 p.m. curfew in violent, destructive protest

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Police responded with tear gas in a bid to control the crowd, who were purportedly protesting Quebec Premier Francois Legault’s decision to roll the city-wide curfew back from 9:30 to 8 p.m. The move, previously replicated in other COVID-19 hot spots across the province, took effect in Montreal and nearby Laval on Sunday.The protest began in relative calm, with a mostly young crowd dancing to music from loudspeakers while lighting fireworks and chanting, “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.Police soon rushed the crowd, prompting dozens of protesters to scatter and cause mayhem down the cobblestone streets of Montreal’s tourist district.

They lit garbage fires at many intersections and seized projectiles from city streets, hurling them at nearby windows and shattering many.

A spokeswoman for Montreal police said she couldn’t offer any comment on the protests, describing them as an ongoing situation. She said that more information would become available as things stabilized and police on the scene could file their reports.

Marwah Rizqy, a Liberal member of the provincial legislature that represents a Montreal riding, tweeted her disapproval of the protestors’ actions.

“Chanting freedom while ransacking windows of stores that are already just getting by. It’s disheartening / outrageous,” Rizqy tweeted in French.

A few protesters were still out on the streets at around 9:30 p.m. throwing glass, breaking city infrastructure and running from police.

Sirens rang through the streets as firefighters put out the many small blazes lit along Old Montréal’s alleys and narrow roads.

The curfew ostensibly at the heart of the protest was imposed to curb COVID-19 infection rates that have spiked in several regions in recent weeks.

Quebec reported 1,535 new COVID-19 cases on Sunday, as well as five additional deaths linked to the virus.

Hospitalizations jumped by 25 to 608, with 139 patients in intensive care.

Health Minister Christian Dube tweeted that the numbers are concerning given that 58 per cent of new cases involve people under the age of 40.

“While vaccination accelerates, we must continue to adhere to the measures if we want to defeat this pandemic,” Dube wrote.

“Let’s show solidarity.”

Legault said last week that he was imposing the health order in Montreal and Laval despite a relatively stable case count as a precaution, due to the heavy presence of more contagious virus variants.

Residents in those regions who leave their homes between 8 p.m. and 5 a.m. without a good reason could face fines of over $1,000.

Legault extended the curfew in Montreal and other red zones from 8 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. in mid-March, but said last week that the evolving COVID-19 situation gave him no choice but to reverse course.

Legault previously placed Quebec City, Levis, Gatineau and several municipalities in Quebec’s Beauce region under the earlier curfew.

The government also closed schools and non-essential businesses in those areas, and Legault announced Thursday that the measures would be extended until at least April 18.

The province also gave 59,447 doses of vaccine on Saturday, and has currently given a shot to just over 22 per cent of the population.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 11, 2021

Giuseppe Valiante, The Canadian Press

 

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