June 8 saw a number of announcements at the provincial and federal levels that reflect the changing nature of the pandemic. While the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic is slowing down in many parts of our country and province, our leaders are still urging everyone to follow public health measures of physical distancing and wearing masks in our daily lives and while participating in public protests.
Premier Ford announced the regions of the province and the businesses and services located there that will be permitted to reopen this Friday as part of Stage 2. He also announced an increase from five to 10 people who can socially gather, the opening of places of worship and a temporary ban on commercial evictions. At the national level, Prime Minister Trudeau announced that immediate family members will be able to enter Canada through the US border as well as some actions his government is taking in response to violence against Black Canadians and Indigenous people.
Please find below more details about these announcements. At the end of this note, is an overview of COVID-19 trends in Ontario as reported by Dr. Williams and Dr. Yaffe as well as cases in Canada.
Today, Premier Ford announced that the Ontario government is moving forward with a regional approach to Stage 2 of reopening the province which will entail the following:
Effective Friday, June 12, 2020 for all regions of Ontario the province will:
increase the limit on social gatherings from five to 10 people;
allow all places of worship to open with physical distancing in place and attendance limited to no more than 30% of the building capacity to ensure the safety of worshippers; and
soon release more details on child-care, summer camps, post-secondary education pilots to help people graduate, training centres, and public transit.
Effective Friday, June 12, all Public Health Unit regions except those listed below will be allowed to move into Stage 2. At the beginning of each week, the government will provide an update on the ongoing assessment of these regions, and whether they are ready to move into Stage 2 by the end of the week. Those that will remain in Stage 1 include: Durham Region Health Department, Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit, Halton Region Public Health, Hamilton Public Health Services, Lambton Public Health, Niagara Region Public Health, Peel Public Health, Toronto Public Health, Windsor-Essex County Health Unit and York Region Public Health.
Businesses and services permitted to reopen with proper health and safety measures in place in regions entering Stage 2 include:
Outdoor dine-in services at restaurants, bars and other establishments, including patios, curbside, parking lots and adjacent properties;
Select personal and personal care services with the proper health and safety measures in place, including tattoo parlours, barbershops, hair salons and beauty salons;
Shopping malls under existing restrictions, including food services reopening for take-out and outdoor dining only;
Tour and guide services, such as bike and walking, bus and boat tours, as well as tasting and tours for wineries, breweries and distilleries;
Water recreational facilities such as outdoor splash pads and wading pools, and all swimming pools;
Beach access and additional camping at Ontario Parks;
Camping at private campgrounds;
Outdoor-only recreational facilities and training for outdoor team sports, with limits to enable physical distancing;
Drive-in and drive-through venues for theatres, concerts, animal attractions and cultural appreciation, such as art installations;
Film and television production activities, with limits to enable physical distancing; and
Weddings and funerals, with limits on social gatherings to 10 people.
The Ontario government announced today that it intends to take action to protect commercial tenants from being locked out or having their assets seized by their landlords due to the negative impacts of COVID-19.
The proposed changes to the Commercial Tenancies Act would, if passed, temporarily halt evictions of businesses that are eligible for federal/provincial rent assistance.
If passed, the legislation would reverse evictions that occurred on or after June 3, 2020 and until August 31, 2020.
Ontario's commitment to Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA)
In partnership with the federal government, Ontario is committing $241 million to the CECRA for small businesses which is providing more than $900 million in support.
CECRA for small businesses provides forgivable loans to eligible commercial landlords to help cover 50% of commercial rent for tenants for the months of April, May and June 2020.
The tenant will be responsible for covering up to 25% of the rent, so that up to 75% of the rent is covered.
Tenants and landlords can learn how much they may be eligible for here.
Premier Ford said that only 7,000 landlords have taken the federal and provincial governments up on the rent abatement offer.
Violence against Black Canadians and Indigenous People:
The Prime Minister indicated that he spoke last week with the Commissioner of the RCMP and was assured by him that the RCMP will make use of all available tools to take quick and solid action to address issues of violence against Black Canadians and Indigenous People, including having RCPM officers wear body cameras.
Prime Minister Trudeau also said that he will be discussing this issue during his weekly meeting with his provincial and territorial counterparts and recognized that racism goes beyond policing and touches on the issue of poverty and mental health as well.
In response to questions about attending a recent Black Lives Matter protest in Ottawa, the Prime Minister indicated that he felt it was important for him to be there to listen and "be able to understand and to share with people how important it was to act... I recognize that it is a difficult situation where we are trying to balance very important competing interests [COVID-19 public health measures]."
Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Minister Blair reaffirmed his commitment to improve Indigenous policing.
The Prime Minister announced that staring this Tuesday the federal government will be introducing limited exemptions for immediate family members of citizens or permanent residents to enter Canada through the Canada-US border. These exemptions will include spouses or common-law partners, parents or step-parents, dependent children, guardians and tutors.
Any person entering Canada will have to self-isolate for 14 days.
We shall continue to monitor and report on COVID-19 related development at the provincial and federal level to make it easier for you to stay informed. Stay well!
P.S. Join Ontario Public Health Association for a webinar presentation on our recent report Clearing the Air: How Electric Vehicles and Cleaner Trucks Can Reduce Pollution, Improve Health and Save Lives in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area' this Wednesday, June 10th 12:00p.m. - 1:00p.m with Sarah Buchanan, at Environmental Defence, Helen Doyle, Helen Doyle, OPHA's Environmental Health Work Group Chair, and Dr. Marianne Hatzopoulou and Laura Minet from the University of Toronto's Transportation and Air Quality Research Group. You can register here.
Summary of Cases
Trends of Cases in Ontario:
Here are the key messages conveyed today by Ontario's Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Williams and his Associate Dr. Yaffe:
Many health units in Ontario have seen no new cases or limited small increases in cases over the last week;
There has been a 7-day daily average of 329 new cases in Ontario of which the majority are from GTA;
The increase of cases per day has been the lowest in the past two days. On Sunday, for example, there were 192 cases (this does not include the reporting delay between hospitals, labs and Public Health).
There's a total of 30,860 cases in Ontario with 243 new cases reported today (around 215 cases from GTA);
79% of these cases or 24,492 cases have recovered;
There's been a steady decrease in the number of people in the hospital (i.e. 603) while the number of people in ICU has remained steady with a 7-day average of 120 people per day; the number of people on a ventilator has declined to a 7-day low of 81 cases;
Tragically, 2,450 deaths have been reported with 24 deaths in the last 24 hours;
The number of active outbreaks, active cases in long-term care home residents and staff have been reducing steadily. The rate of increase in deaths has also been slowing down;
There have been favourable trends for retirement homes with 26 active outbreaks and no new deaths;
In the last week, Ontario has processed on average just over 19,000 tests a day, with record highs on Friday and Saturday, just around 23,000 daily tests;
Today, Ontario completed 15,357 tests bringing the total in Ontario to 866,889 tests;
While the number of tests in increasing, the number of new cases is not increasing, which provincial public health leaders are taking as an encouraging and that the province is ready to enter Stage 2.
Cases in Canada:
Total number of cases: 95,699; an increase of 642 cases
Resolved: 54,233 (57%)
Deaths: 7,800 (8%)
People tested: 50,462 people tested per million
Percent positivity: 5%