COVID-19 Update for July 19, 2021 – Border Measures Eased Further

­­Border Measures Eased Further

With COVID-19 case numbers continuing to decline across the country, federal officials announced their plans to open the border for discretionary travel, lifting mandatory quarantines for fully-vaccinated travellers.

Beginning August 9, U.S. citizens and permanent residents who are fully-vaccinated will be allowed to enter Canada for non-essential travel, without having to quarantine for two weeks. Fully-vaccinated individuals from all other countries will be eligible to enter Canada for non-essential travel beginning September 7. All travellers must still provide proof of vaccination prior to departure, meet pre-entry and on-arrival testing requirements, and adhere to all public health measures.

Unvaccinated children under 12 years of age who are accompanying a fully-vaccinated guardian will be permitted entry but must also abide by all public health guidelines. Fully-vaccinated international students who plan to study in Canada will also be permitted to enter, if they meet the specific entry requirements.

Transportation Minister Omar Alghabra said flights arriving from international destinations will also be allowed at five additional airports including Halifax, Quebec City, Ottawa, Winnipeg and Edmonton, but the ban on direct flights between Canada and India is being extended until August 21, based on advice from the Public Health Agency of Canada regarding the Delta variant.

You can read the full news release on the changes to international travel restrictions including the elimination of temperature screenings here.

COVID-19 Update for July 9, 2021 – Ontario Moving to Step 3 Early

­­Ontario Moving to Step 3 Early

With more than half of adults in Ontario now fully vaccinated, eclipsing initial targets, and steady shipments of COVID-19 vaccines expected to continue throughout the summer, the province announced this morning it will move into Step 3 of the Roadmap to Reopen ahead of schedule on July 16.

Wearing masks in indoor public settings and physical distancing requirements will remain in place throughout Step 3.

What will be allowed:

  • Outdoor gatherings and organized events of up to 100 people.
  • Indoor gatherings and organized events with up to 25 people.
  • Indoor religious services, including weddings and funerals (as long as physical distancing is maintained).
  • Indoor dining with no limits on the number of patrons per table (again with physical distancing and other restrictions still in effect).
  • Indoor sports and recreational fitness facilities – to a maximum 50% capacity or 1,000 people.
  • Retail stores and personal care services, with capacity limited to the number of people that can maintain two metres of physical distancing.
  • Museums, galleries, historic sites, aquariums, zoos, landmarks, botanical gardens, science centres, casinos/bingo halls, amusement parks, fairs and rural exhibitions, festivals – with capacity limits (50% indoors, 75% outdoors).
  • Concert venues, cinemas and theatres – with capacity limits.
  • Real estate open houses (with physical distancing).
  • Indoor food or drink establishments with dance facilities, including nightclubs and restobars, up to 25% capacity or a maximum of 250 people.

You can read the full news release including details on Step 3 of Roadmap to Reopen here.

COVID-19 Update for June 29, 2021 – Long-Term Care Lifting Some Restrictions July 7

­­Long-Term Care Lifting Some Restrictions July 7

In his first press conference as Minister of Long-Term Care, Rod Phillips announced long-term care homes will begin easing COVID-19 restrictions early next month, including lifting limits on outdoor and indoor gatherings.

Starting July 7, LTC residents will be able to have as many designated caregivers as they need, so long as public health guidelines are maintained. Residents will be permitted to gather with up to 10 people outdoors and up to two visitors, plus two caregivers indoors.

Personal care services such as hairdressers will also be allowed entry into long-term care homes, while restrictions will ease on dining and social activities, including singing, dancing, and off-site excursions. Visitors must still complete mandatory screening upon entry and follow all safety measures for the duration of their visit.

Phillips said implementing these changes was only made possible by continued vaccination efforts, as the province moves forward in the Roadmap to Reopen framework. To date, 99 per cent of long-term care residents are fully immunized, and nearly 85 per cent of staff have received both shots.

You can read the full news release including details on long-term care homes alignment with Roadmap to Reopen here.

COVID-19 Update for June 21, 2021 – Fully Vaxxed? Zero Quarantine

­Fully vaxxed? Zero Quarantine.

Fully vaccinated individuals can start planning their summer vacations. Federal ministers announced today that border measures will be lifted beginning July 5.

In two weeks, fully vaccinated travelers permitted to enter Canada will no longer have to quarantine or take a COVID-19 test on Day 8 of their stay. Additionally, these individuals will not be required to stay at a government-authorized hotel.

Fully vaccinated travelers will still have to meet requirements including pre-departure and on- arrival testing, particularly to monitor for variants of concern. Travelers must also provide proof of vaccination prior to their arrival in Canada and complete eligibility, vaccination and health screening.

For travelers who are not fully vaccinated, current travel restrictions remain in place until at least July 21, and individuals must adhere to requirements including the mandatory quarantine. The flight ban between Canada and India will also remain in place until July 21.

Non-vaccinated children under 18 will also be exempt from hotel quarantine, but must still stay at home for 14 days. Fully vaccinated parents do not need to isolate with them.

Federal Health Minister Patty Hajdu says Canada will continue to monitor domestic and international metrics such as case rates, hospitalizations and outbreaks, and experts will adjust as needed.

You can read the full news release including details on the border opening here.

COVID-19 Update for June 7, 2021 – Ontario Begins Reopening

­Ontario will move to Step One of reopening at 12:01 a.m. on Friday, June 11 – three days sooner than expected.

Step One allows for Ontario to relax restrictions that mainly involve outdoor activities such as day camps, camping and zoos. The first step of the Roadmap to Reopen includes, but is not limited to:

  • Outdoor social gatherings and organized public events with up to 10 people;
  • Outdoor religious services, rites, or ceremonies, including wedding services and funeral services, capped at the number of people that can maintain a physical distance of two metres;
  • Indoor religious services, rites or ceremonies, including wedding services and funeral services permitted at up to 15 per cent capacity of the particular room;
  • Non-essential retail permitted at 15 per cent capacity, with no restrictions on the goods that can be sold;
  • Essential and other select retail permitted at 25 per cent capacity, with no restrictions on the goods that can be sold;
  • Outdoor dining with up to four people per table, with exceptions for larger households;
  • Outdoor fitness classes, outdoor groups in personal training and outdoor individual/team sport training to be permitted with up to 10 people, among other restrictions;
  • Day camps for children permitted to operate in a manner consistent with the safety guidelines for COVID-19 produced by the Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health;
  • Overnight camping at campgrounds and campsites, including Ontario Parks, and short-term rentals;
  • Concert venues, theatres and cinemas may open outdoors for the purpose of rehearsing or performing a recorded or broadcasted concert, artistic event, theatrical performance or other performance with no more than 10 performers, among other restrictions;
  • Outdoor horse racing tracks and motor speedways permitted to operate without spectators; and
  • Outdoor attractions such as zoos, landmarks, historic sites, botanical gardens with capacity and other restrictions.

More information can be found here.

COVID-19 Update for May 28 2021 – Second Doses for Summer

With vaccinations in the province ahead of schedule, those most at risk will be able to receive their second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine as soon as Monday. Accelerating the rollout of second doses beginning with the most vulnerable, those in the 80+ cohort will be able to book a second shot beginning on May 31, with 70+ to follow the week of June 14.

Premier Doug Ford said second doses will be provided on a “first-in, first-out basis,” beginning the week of June 28 based on the date of first shots. The province is expected to reduce time between first and second doses to as little as four weeks rather than 16 weeks, dependent on vaccine supply and availability in local public health units. “The faster we deliver vaccines, the faster we can put this pandemic behind us for good,” Ford said. “Everyone in Ontario who wants a vaccine could be fully vaccinated by the end of August.”

You can read the full news release including details on second doses of the AstraZeneca shot here.

COVID-19 Update for May 21 2021 – Second dose of AZ vaccine

The Ontario government says it is confident it can safely proceed with second dose administration of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, beginning with those who received their first dose of the vaccine between March 10 and March 19, 2021.

Second AZ Dose A Go

On May 11, Ontario paused the rollout and administration of first doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine due to a potential adverse reaction, known as vaccine-induced immune thrombotic thrombocytopenia (VITT), linked to the AstraZeneca vaccine.

Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. David Williams, said today the Province is now confident it can safely proceed with second dose administration of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, beginning with those who received their first dose of the vaccine between March 10 and March 19, 2021.

For a limited time during the week of May 24, individuals who received their first dose of AstraZeneca from March 10 to March 19, 2021 may opt for an earlier dose interval of 10 weeks (instead of the originally recommended 12-week interval) with informed consent. Dr. Williams said this opportunity is being offered to “ensure every vaccine dose possible is used to protect Ontarians during the effective delivery period.”

Eligible individuals are encouraged to contact the pharmacy or primary care provider where they received their first dose and can book an appointment beginning the week of May 24. This will begin in the regions where the AstraZeneca vaccine was initially launched in pharmacies in March 2021. Primary care settings and pharmacies may also be reaching out to eligible Ontarians.

More information can be found here.

COVID-19 Update for May 20 2021 – Ontario Reopening Plan released

Just ahead of the Victoria Day long weekend, Ontario lifted restrictions on golf and tennis beginning this weekend, with more changes to come as the province prepares to reopen in June.

Outdoors Open

Following days of summer-like temperatures leading into the long weekend, Ontario lifted restrictions on outdoor gatherings of five people, as well as amenities like golf and tennis beginning this Saturday, the first move in the province’s extremely cautious reopening strategy.

“Roadmap to Reopen” is billed as a gradual three-step plan based on hitting specific vaccination targets, which Premier Doug Ford said is the “single biggest factor in our fight against COVID-19.” The province is expected to enter Step 1 the week of June 14, followed by Step 2 three weeks later and Step 3 three weeks after that.

Step 1 focuses on resuming outdoor activities with smaller crowds and low risks of transmission once 60 per cent of adults have been vaccinated with one dose. This will include outdoor gatherings of up to 10 people, outdoor dining of up to four people per table, opening non-essential retail at 15 per cent capacity and opening outdoor activities like pools, fitness classes and religious services with restrictions.

Step 2 – following 70 per cent of adults receiving one dose and 20 per cent receiving two – further expands outdoor activities and limited indoor services. This will include outdoor gatherings of up to 25 people, resuming outdoor sports and leagues, as well as opening non-essential retail to 25 per cent capacity. Public libraries and personal care services will also be allowed with capacity limits and mandatory mask-wearing.

The final step, Step 3 – at 70-80 per cent of adults vaccinated with one dose and 25 per cent with two – will expand access to indoor settings where capacity limits and masks may not be required, including gyms, cinemas and indoor dining.

Public health measures and high vaccination uptake, particularly in hot-spot areas, have led to declining case counts and hospitalizations across the province, but ICU occupancy remains strained with high-risk patients requiring long stays. To date, nearly 60 per cent of Ontarians have received their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

Modeling from Ontario’s COVID-19 Science Advisory Table today demonstrated potential
outcomes for partial reopening on June 2 and June 16, with the latter presenting better results. Data also suggested reopening of schools on June 2 may result in a manageable increase in COVID-19, but the government did not say whether indoor learning would resume.

The table’s co-chair, Dr. Adalsteinn Brown, said “outdoor activities are much safer than indoor activities and should be encouraged.”

You can read the full announcement and breakdown of Roadmap to Reopen here.

COVID-19 Update for May 13 2021 – Stay-at-Home Order Extended Again

Ontarians Staying At Home

Hopes to do more outside will have to wait a little longer, as the province announced Thursday the current Stay-At-Home order will extend until June 2.

Despite calls to rescind the ban on outdoor recreational activities including golf, tennis and basketball, Premier Doug Ford announced all public health measures will remain in place until that date. Ford said by that time, the province will be able to open outdoor recreation and introduce a plan to begin reopening Ontario.

He said the plan will not include large sporting events or concerts, but the goal is to “have the most normal July and August possible.”

The decreasing trend in daily new case counts and high vaccination uptake in hotspot areas were not strong enough for the province to consider loosening restrictions, as hospitals are still under immense pressure. Variants of concerns also remain a major concern and Ontario officials continue to call for stronger border measures by the federal government.

The province-wide Stay-At-Home order introduced on April 16 was originally scheduled to end ahead of the long weekend on May 20.

The news release can be read here.

Vaccines for Students

Ford also announced that beginning May 31, Ontario youth aged 12-17 will be eligible to book an appointment for their first dose of the Pfizer vaccine.

Schools will continue virtual learning until public health doctors, teachers and labour partners are able to reach a consensus.

Support for Travel and Tourism Businesses

With no travel or tourism opportunities on the horizon, the Ontario government highlighted a $100 million business grant for small tourism and travel businesses that have been heavily impacted by the pandemic. Eligible businesses for a one-time payment between $10,000-$20,000 include travel agencies, hotels and resorts who did not receive funding from the Ontario Small Business Grant.

Lisa MacLeod, Minister of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries, said this grant is estimated to support 7,700 businesses, but there is “flexibility to support more” if the total exceeds 7,700 or $100 million.

Applications are open until June 25.

The news release and complete list of eligibility requirements can be read here.

COVID-19 Update for May 5 2021 – Vaccine Expansion: Kids, Pharmacies and Mobile Clinics

Health Canada expands use of Pfizer, Ontario expands vaccine locations.

Ontario expands vaccine access points

Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott announced that starting later this week more than 60 pharmacies across the province will start providing the Moderna vaccine to adults over the age of 18. This rollout will begin Friday of this week and will add additional pharmacy locations across targeted public health units.

Pharmacies that are already administering Pfizer or AstraZeneca vaccines will continue to do so; in order to ensure a smooth roll out, pharmacies will only be able to administer one type of vaccine.

Solicitor General Sylvia Jones also highlighted that employer-led mobile vaccination clinics will be launched for small- to medium-sized businesses in hotspot communities. The first five of these mobile units will be available starting May 7th and will target businesses in Toronto, York and Peel.

You can read more here.

Pfizer-BioNTech Vaccine eligibility expanded.

Dr. Supriya Sharma, Canada’s Chief Medical Advisor, announced that Health Canada has expanded the Interim Order authorization to allow the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for the use in children aged 12 to 15.

Pfizer has conducted a study that shows their vaccine regiment has 100% efficacy in this younger age group, and submitted their request for an expanded approval on April 16th.

Health Canada will be providing more information on the accessibility and roll out of vaccines tomorrow. It will be up to individual provinces too determine the timing of when this age group will be able to receive their doses.

You can read more here.