Japan has decided to stage this summer’s Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics without overseas spectators due to public concern about COVID-19, Kyodo news agency said on Tuesday, citing officials with knowledge of the matter.
The Tokyo 2020 games organizing committee said in response that a decision would be made by the end of March.
The Olympics, postponed by a year because of the pandemic, are scheduled for July 23 to Aug. 8 and the Paralympics from Aug. 24 to Sept. 5.
Kyodo said the government had concluded welcoming fans from abroad would not be possible given public concern about the coronavirus and the detection of more contagious variants in many countries, Kyodo cited the officials as saying.
The opening ceremony of the torch relay would also be held without any spectators, Kyodo said.
“The organizing committee has decided it is essential to hold the ceremony in the northeastern prefecture of Fukushima behind closed doors, only permitting participants and invitees to take part in the event, to avoid large crowds forming amid the pandemic,” Kyodo said, quoting the officials.
Tokyo 2020 president Seiko Hashimoto has said she wants a decision on whether to let in overseas spectators before the start of the torch relay on March 25.
“Five parties, the IOC, the IPC [International Paralympic Committee], Tokyo 2020, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government and the national government, came together for a meeting via online just last week,” the organizing committee said in response to the Kyodo report.
“The decision regarding allowing spectators from overseas to attend the Tokyo 2020 Games will be made by the end of March based on factors including the state of infections in Japan and other countries, possible epidemic-prevention measures, and expert scientific advice will be considered.”
In the last Olympic Games, the 2018 Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea, local fans accounted for 80 per cent of all ticket sales, with international fans buying 20 percent.
While coronavirus infection numbers have been relatively low in Japan compared with the United States and many European countries, the country has been hit hard by the third wave of the pandemic and Tokyo remains under a state of emergency.
Japan has recorded more than 441,200 COVID-19 cases since the start of the pandemic, with the death toll at more than 8,300.
Most Japanese people do not want international visitors to attend the Games amid fears that a large influx could spark a resurgence of infections, a Yomiuri newspaper poll showed.
The survey showed 77 per cent of respondents were against allowing foreign fans to attend, versus 18 per cent in favour.
Some 48 per cent said they were against allowing any spectators into venues and 45 per cent were in favour.
India blocked mobile internet services in several areas around New Delhi on Saturday as protesting farmers began a one-day hunger strike after a week of clashes with authorities that left one dead and hundreds injured.
Angry at new agricultural laws that they say benefit large private food buyers at the expense of producers, tens of thousands of farmers have been camped at protest sites on the outskirts of the capital for more than two months.
At the main protest site near the village of Singhu on the northern outskirts of the city, there was a heightened police presence on Saturday as hundreds of tractors arrived from Haryana, one of two states at the centre of the protests.
“Many farmers’ groups have joined the protest site since last night,” said Mahesh Singh, a 65-year-old farmer from Haryana. “They have come to show their support and more farmers are expected to come in the next two days.”
India’s interior ministry said on Saturday internet services at three locations on the outskirts of New Delhi where protests are occurring had been suspended until 11 p.m. on Sunday to “maintain public safety.”
Indian authorities often block local internet services when they believe there will be unrest, although the move is unusual in the capital.
Farm leaders said the hunger strike by hundreds of protesters, primarily at Singhu and two other protest sites and designed to coincide with the anniversary of the death of Indian independence leader Mahatma Gandhi, would show Indians that the demonstrations were non-violent.
“The farmers’ movement was peaceful and will be peaceful,” said Darshan Pal, a leader of the Samyukt Kisan Morcha group of farm unions organizing the protests. “The events on January 30 will be organized to spread the values of truth and non-violence.”
Agriculture employs about half of India’s population of 1.3 billion, and unrest among an estimated 150 million landowning farmers is one of the biggest challenges to the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi since coming to power in 2014.
Eleven rounds of talks between farm unions and the government have failed to break the deadlock. The government has offered to put the laws on hold for 18 months, but farmers say they will not end their protests for anything less than full repeal.
WATCH | From Jan. 26, Indian farmers descend on capital to protest reforms:
Thousands of Indian farmers converged on the capital, New Delhi, to continue their lengthy protest against agricultural reforms that they say will cost them money. 1:00
In the past week, a planned tractor parade on Tuesday’s Republic Day anniversary turned violent when some protesters deviated from pre-agreed routes, tore down barricades and clashed with police, who used tear gas to try and restrain them.
Sporadic clashes between protesters, police and groups shouting anti-farmer slogans have broken out on multiple occasions since then.
With some help from his brother, Ion Izagirre won the sixth stage of the Spanish Vuelta on Sunday in Sallent de Gallego, and Richard Carapaz snatched the overall lead from defending champion Primoz Roglic.
Ion Izagirre was guided by older brother Gorka Izagirre during the final parts of the stage and made a strong attack on the final climb of the 146-kilometre stage. The stage was originally planned to cross into France but had to be altered to stay in Spanish territory because of tightened coronavirus restrictions. A Spanish rider for Astana, Izagirre finished 25 seconds ahead of Ottawa native Michael Woods and Rui Costa of Portugal.
“I have to thank Gorka because he made things easier for me,” the younger Izagirre said.
Roglic crossed the line in 20th place, nearly two minutes after Izagirre, dropping to fourth place in the overall standings. The Jumbo-Visma rider was 30 seconds behind Carapaz. Hugh Carthy of team EF Pro moved to second place, 18 seconds off the lead, with Dan Martin of team Israel Start-Up Nation close behind in third place.
Ineos Grenadiers rider Carapaz finished 12th in Sunday’s stage marked by wet and cold conditions.
“This is a reward for the team, we had worked well all week,” the 27-year-old Ecuadorean said. “There’s still a lot of Vuelta left, we will try to defend this jersey.”
Roglic, a contender in the Tour de France until the final competitive stage, had been wearing the leader’s jersey since winning the first Vuelta stage.
Monday will be the race’s first rest day. On Tuesday, riders will face a hilly 159-kilometre stage from Vitoria-Gasteiz to Valdegovia.
The Vuelta is taking place amid tight health restrictions after Spain recently endured a surge in coronavirus cases. The race was postponed from earlier in the year because of the pandemic.
Marcus Rashford sprinted toward the corner flag inside an empty Parc des Princes and slid on his knees in celebration, just like two seasons ago.
Another trip to Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League. Another late winner for the Manchester United striker.
In a heavyweight contest on the opening night of the group stage, United reproduced its stunning exploits from the 2018-19 competition by beating PSG away thanks to Rashford’s 87th-minute strike in a 2-1 win on Tuesday.
It was an eerily similar scenario to 18 months ago, when United arrived in the French capital heavily depleted and 2-0 down from the first leg of the teams’ last-16 match. It was Rashford who clinched an unlikely 3-1 win — and progress to the quarterfinals — with a stoppage-time penalty.
PSG, last season’s beaten finalist, already has work to do if the Qatar-owned team is to realize its long-held ambition of being European champion for the first time.
Lionel Messi’s Barcelona and Cristiano Ronaldo’s Juventus are up and running already, though.
Messi scored a penalty to set Barca on its way to a 5-1 win over Hungarian outsider Ferencvaros as the Spanish team began the rebuild of its reputation in Europe’s elite competition, two months after an embarrassing 8-2 loss to Bayern Munich in the quarter-finals last season.
Ronaldo was missing for Juventus after testing positive for the coronavirus last week, but the Italian champion had a worthy replacement in Alvaro Morata as the striker scored twice in a 2-0 win at Dynamo Kyiv.
There were wins for Lazio, Leipzig and Club Brugge, while Chelsea and Sevilla drew 0-0 and two group-stage newcomers — Rennes and Krasnodar — drew 1-1.
Shortage of fans
There were no fans at the Parc des Princes, one of three stadiums — along with Barcelona’s Camp Nou and Chelsea’s Stamford Bridge — to be without spectators for the return of the Champions League because of the coronavirus.
Other games were sparsely attended, with nearly 16,700 spectators watching Zenit St. Petersburg lose 2-1 to Brugge, 14,850 seeing Juventus win in Kyiv, and 5,000 attending the Rennes-Krasnodar game.
A sluggish PSG certainly could have done with some backing from its supporters, with United proving more than a match for the home team despite having a makeshift centre-back pairing of Axel Tuanzebe and Victor Lindelof while Paul Pogba started on the bench.
United went ahead through midfielder Bruno Fernandes’ twice-taken penalty midway through the first half but conceded when Anthony Martial rose to clear Neymar’s corner from the left, only to glance a header past his own goalkeeper, David de Gea, in the 55th.
Rashford had already been denied by PSG goalkeeper Keylor Navas when he collected a pass from Pogba and smashed a low, angled shot inside the far post from the edge of the penalty area.
In the other game in Group H, Leipzig — a surprise semifinalist last season — beat Istanbul Basaksehir 2-0 in front of just under 1,000 fans thanks to two first-half goals by Spanish defender Angelino.
Barcelona youngsters shine, Juventus rolls
Messi now has 116 goals in the Champions League, and extended his run of scoring at least one goal in the competition in 16 consecutive seasons.
It was also a special night for two players nearly half his age, with 17-year-olds Ansu Fati and Pedri also scoring for Barcelona against Ferencvaros — a club making its first appearance in the group stage in 25 years.
Philippe Coutinho and Ousmane Dembele were the other scorers for Barcelona, which lost defender Gerard Pique to a straight red card with about 20 minutes left. Ihor Kharatin scored Ferencvaros’ lone goal from the resulting penalty.
Messi and Ronaldo — two players who have been at the top of the world game for more than a decade — are in the same Champions League group for the first time and are set to meet next week when Juventus hosts Barca.
Juventus coped well without Ronaldo in Kyiv, with Morata — a recent arrival from Atletico Madrid on loan — scoring twice in the second half.
Brugge, Lazio grab wins
U.S. national team goalkeeper Ethan Horvath is one of a record 10 Americans eligible for the group stage with various clubs. He didn’t get off to the best of starts.
Horvath, who plays for Brugge, was credited with an own-goal against Zenit after a shot by Dejan Lovren hit the post and bounced in off the back of the diving goalkeeper.
Brugge grabbed a stoppage-time winner from Charles De Ketelaere, though, and joins Lazio on three points in Group F.
The Italian team, which is playing in the Champions League group stage for the first time in 13 years, beat Borussia Dortmund 3-1 through goals by Ciro Immobile and Jean-Daniel Akpa-Akpro as well as an own-goal by Dortmund goalkeeper Marwin Hitz.
Erling Haaland scored for Dortmund.
In Group E, all four teams are on one point. Chelsea finally got its six major summer signings on the field together but couldn’t find a way past stubborn Sevilla.
Rennes took the lead against Krasnodar through striker Serhou Guirassy’s penalty in the 56th, but conceded three minutes later when left back Cristian Ramirez’s long-distance strike beat goalkeeper Alfred Gomis at the near post.
Toronto Mayor John Tory is calling on the province to implement additional measures that would be applied to bars, restaurants and indoor dining settings ahead of any Stage 3 reopening in the city, saying he is worried about a second wave.
In a letter to Premier Doug Ford, Tory calls for six actions that he hopes will be put in place quickly, including early closure times, further physical distancing restrictions and requiring customers to stay seated at all times.
“I know Premier Ford is just as concerned as I am about a second wave and the disastrous impact that a return to a more stringent lockdown would have on the health of our residents and the restart of the Ontario economy,” Tory said in a statement on Saturday.
“We have seen in other jurisdictions that further reopening can lead to increased outbreaks of COVID-19 and growing case count numbers. We do not want to go in that direction.”
Tory said he hopes the province will make amendments to the province’s Stage 3 order that will apply, at least, to the Toronto.
The six changes are:
Requiring customers of indoor food and drink establishments to be seated at all times unless walking in or out, going to the washroom or paying the bill. The present requirement applies only while people are actually eating or drinking.
Requiring restaurant and bar operators to keep a customer log with a name and contact information along with the date, check in and check out times, and table number for 30 days. Right now, this is only a Toronto Public Health recommendation not a provincial requirement.
Implementing additional capacity restrictions for food and drink establishments that limit occupancy to ensure that physical distancing can be easily maintained by all patrons. Right now, there is no cap provided distancing can be maintained.
Implementing early closure times for food and drink establishments for at least an initial period of time, similar to what has been done in Quebec.
Requiring establishments to implement COVID-19 screening protocols for staff, such as completion of a screening questionnaire, prior to the commencement of their shifts.
Outlining clear mandatory face covering requirements for staff and patrons of bars and restaurants in the amended Stage 3 order.
In a statement to CBC Toronto, the Ontario health ministry said under the current regulations for Stage 3, customers are required to be seated, but only when eating and drinking, buffets are not permitted, physical distancing or barriers must be set up and establishments need to restrict dancing, singing and music performances.
Premier <a href=”https://twitter.com/fordnation?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@fordnation</a> and I appreciate the City of Toronto’s recommendations and will continue to work directly with Mayor <a href=”https://twitter.com/JohnTory?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@JohnTory</a> and city officials as we constantly assess public health guidelines and evaluate when may the region may be ready to safely enter Stage 3. <a href=”https://t.co/dJmrDeqZYH”>https://t.co/dJmrDeqZYH</a>
“Our top priority is the health and safety of all Ontarians,” the statement said.
“We appreciate the City of Toronto’s advice and will continue to work directly with them as we evaluate when the region may be ready to safely enter Stage 3.”
The city said these establishments present a high level of risk of transmission of the novel coronavirus and by implementing additional measures, will ensure public health and safety as the city prepares to move into Stage 3 of reopening.
The recommendations come after a number of bars and restaurants made headlines for not maintaining physical distancing in their establishments.
Last week, the Ontario Medical Association urged the Ford government to rethink allowing bars to resume serving customers indoors, saying that bars have been shown to fuel the spread of the virus.
“I firmly believe that for the good of the province and our city, we must continue to move forward safely, but we also must do everything we can to continue to stop the spread of COVID-19,” said Tory.
Samantha Mewis and Crystal Dunn each scored and the North Carolina Courage won their fourth straight game, beating Sky Blue 2-0 on Monday night in the National Women’s Soccer League’s Challenge Cup.
The two-time league defending champions finished the group stage atop the field heading into the quarter-finals.
Mewis scored in the seventh minute for the fastest goal of the Challenge Cup so far. Dunn added her first goal of the tournament in the 57th minute. Both players were on the U.S. national team that won the World Cup last summer in France.
The Courage lead the tournament in goals scored with seven. They’ve allowed just one.
WATCH | Courage continue dominant tournament:
Samantha Mewis records an early goal as North Carolina Courage goes on to defeat Sky Blue FC 2-0 to finish on top of the NWSL Challenge Cup group stage at 4-0-0. 0:53
North Carolina forward Jessica McDonald came in as a sub in the 64th minute, her first appearance of the tournament. McDonald was nursing a right thigh injury.
It was the final group match of the eight-team tournament. Results of the opening stage determined seeding for the knockout round.
The league’s ninth team, the Orlando Pride, withdrew from the Challenge Cup before it started after several players tested positive for the coronavirus.
Sky Blue finished the opening stage 1-2-1 and in seventh place.
The seventh-seeded Sky Blue will play the Washington Spirit in the quarter-finals.
WATCH | Canada’s Sheridan clutch kick save:
Kailen Sheridan from Whitby, Ont., comes up with a big stop on Crystal Dunn of North Carolina Courage. 0:38
Sinclair’s Thorns finish group stage winless
The Portland Thorns will face top-seeded North Carolina in the quarter-finals of the National Women’s Soccer League’s Challenge Cup after wrapping up the group stage with a scoreless draw with the rival OL Reign on Monday.
The Thorns were winless in the opening round to finish last among the eight teams playing in the tournament, which was wrapping up group stage matches Monday.
Sophia Huerta, acquired by the Reign in the off-season, made her first start and had one of the team’s best chances late in the first half. Taylor Smith was open in the 61st minute but her shot went wide.
WATCH | Reign, Thorns play to scoreless draw:
Christine Sinclair from Burnaby, B.C. led the attack for the Portland Thorns but they were unable to score in a 0-0 draw against OL Reign FC. 1:43
Portland controlled possession for most of the first half but Reign goalkeeper Michelle Betos saved attempts from both Christine Sinclair and rookie Morgan Weaver. Raquel Rodriguez got a long-range shot from the top of the box in the final minute of regulation but Betos scooped it up.
The Reign saw the return of Jessica Fishlock, who hadn’t played since last season because of an ACL injury. She came in as a sub in the 72nd minute.
Lindsey Horan did not play for the Thorns after scoring in the team’s last game, a 1-1 draw with the Washington Spirit.
A large swath of Ontario will move to Stage 3 of the province’s reopening plan on July 17, with the exception of the Greater Toronto Area and other parts of southern Ontario, which will remain in Stage 2 for now.
The province’s plan will allow for activities such as indoor dining in restaurants, live performing arts shows and the reopening of movie theatres and playgrounds — albeit with significant health and safety measures in place, including physical distancing, enhanced cleaning protocols and Plexiglas barriers.
“Every corner of our province is getting back to work,” Premier Doug Ford said at a Monday news conference.
“Today, we are ready to take the next step.”
The province says it will allow indoor gatherings of up to 50 people in Stage 3 and outdoor gatherings of up to 100 people. However, according to the plan, physical distancing remains a requirement for all people who are not from the same household or established social circle.
Work colleagues, including performers and crews, do not count toward gathering limits, according to the province.
The following public health units will remain in Stage 2 for the time being:
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.
York Region Public Health.
“These regions entered Stage 2 later on, so we need just a little more time,” Ford said. “I want the people in these regions to know we won’t leave anyone behind.
“We will keep working until every part of this province gets to Stage 3.”
The plan also says that people gathering inside for religious services, weddings or funerals can continue to fill up to 30 per cent of a room’s capacity in Stage 3.
It also dictates that sport facilities and gyms can reopen but notes that physical distancing still must be maintained, “except if playing a team sport or as needed for personal training.”
Amusement parks and water parks are not being allowed to reopen in Stage 3 at the moment.
Health measures still in place in Stage 3
Health Minister Christine Elliott said Monday that health measures such as wearing face coverings, hand washing and physical distancing remain key to ensuring that Ontarians can “safely enjoy the loosening of restrictions.
“We expect the province will remain in Stage 3 for the foreseeable future,” Elliott said.
She also said that health officials will be monitoring for any COVID-19 outbreaks and can tighten restrictions if there are flare-ups.
The health minister also said social circles for people in Ontario will remain capped at 10 for now. The province can gradually expand them, but “just not right yet,” she said.
Finance Minister Rod Phillips said Ontario is in a “strong position” to reopen right now, especially compared to areas in some other countries being hard hit by COVID-19.
“We’re in this position because we have made the choice to act responsibly and treat each other with respect,” he said.
He said that respect is key in Stage 3 to “avoid taking a step backwards.”
116 new cases reported Monday
The loosening of restrictions comes as the spread of COVID-19 continues to slow in Ontario, with new daily case numbers having steadily declined over the last five weeks.
Ontario reported 116 newly confirmed cases of COVID-19 today.
In a series of tweets this morning, Elliott noted that 29 of Ontario’s 34 public health units reported five or fewer additional cases today, while 21 of those 29 confirmed no new cases at all. There are currently fewer than 1,500 active cases provincewide.
Further, the number of patients in Ontario hospitals with infections of the novel coronavirus also continues to fall, she said. There were five times as many people being treated in hospital for COVID-19 at the beginning of June than there are now.
“Having seen a continued decline in the number of new [COVID-19] cases as the province entered Stage 2, and with hospitalizations being at all-time lows, today we’re providing details about Stage 3 of our plan to continue the safe and gradual reopening the province,” Elliott wrote.
Twenty-four public health units entered Stage 2 on June 12, and seven more on June 19. Toronto and Peel, the province’s most populous health units, then proceeded into Stage 2 five days after that. The move included reopening patios and hair salons.
The president and CEO of the Ontario Hospital Association is already expressing some hesitations at the prospect of entering the third phase.
“Given that hospitals continue to act as the anchor of Ontario’s response to COVID-19, [the OHA] will be giving this announcement some serious scrutiny,” Anthony Dale wrote on Twitter.
“We can’t have hallway health care in a pandemic.”
Nearly 89% of confirmed cases resolved
The additional cases of COVID-19 reported today mean that Ontario has now seen a total of 36,839 infections of the novel coronavirus since the outbreak began in late January.
Of those, 88.7 per cent are considered resolved by the Ministry of Health.
The province’s official death toll from the illness grew by three in today’s report and now sits at 2,722. A CBC News count based on data provided directly by public health units, however, puts the real toll at 2,756 as of yesterday evening.
About three quarters of all deaths were residents in long-term care homes. Health officials are currently tracking ongoing outbreaks in 23 facilities.
Meanwhile, Ontario’s network of about 30 community, commercial and hospital labs processed some 20,896 test samples for the virus since the last update. Another 7,837 are in the queue waiting to be completed.
You can read the province’s plan for Stage 3 here:
With new coronavirus cases on a steady downward trend since early June, much of Ontario is poised to move to Stage 3 of the province’s reopening plan soon, officials suggested this week.
But it’s not yet clear which emergency restrictions will actually be lifted or relaxed when that happens.
Until now, the provincial government has described Stage 3 only in general terms: “Opening all workplaces responsibly” and “further relaxing the restrictions on public gatherings.”
Premier Doug Ford declined Thursday to offer anything more specific.
“It’s going to come very shortly, hopefully sooner than later,” he told a news conference.
This leaves plenty of open questions about precisely what Ontario’s Stage 3 will look like. How large will public gatherings be? What restrictions will remain in place for bars and restaurants? Will cinemas or theatres be allowed to open? What about gyms and other fitness facilities?
The only near-certainties about Stage 3 are: it will not bring the return of indoor events with the biggest crowds — such as concerts and spectator sports — and physical distancing guidelines will remain. Beyond those, Stage 3 restrictions could fall anywhere in a wide range.
In Ontario’s Stage 2, restaurants are restricted to outdoor seating and take-out meals. Most provinces that have allowed restaurants to reopen fully have put limits in place, such as operating at lower-than-full capacity or minimum space between tables.
Other measures could include Plexiglas between tables and having the restaurant keep a record of diners to aid public health tracing if any confirmed cases emerge among customers or staff.
“There’s only so much you can do [to prevent transmission] because of the nature of eating together,” said Sumon Chakrabarti, an infectious diseases specialist at Trillium Health Partners in Mississauga, Ont.
“There’s going to be an inherent risk. But it’s a risk that I would say is less than, say, an indoor nightclub.”
Bars and clubs
Quebec on Thursday announced new restrictions on bars in the wake of a spike in COVID-19 cases on Montreal’s South Shore. Bars are now limited to 50 per cent of their normal legal capacity, people must be in their seats to drink, dancing is banned, alcohol sales end at midnight and customers must be out the door by 1 a.m. ET.
If Ontario allows bars to have customers indoors in Stage 3, they can almost certainly expect similar restrictions, according to public health experts.
“Bars are a tough one because people go there to interact,” said Raywat Deonandan, an epidemiologist and associate professor at the University of Ottawa.
“Restaurants are a bit easier in some ways because you don’t go there to meet other people. You go there to eat with the people you came with.”
Cinemas, theatres, performance venues
The pandemic has meant lights out for cinemas and performing arts across Ontario. The move to Stage 2 allowed the opening of drive-in cinemas, as well as performance venues where the audience stays in their cars. Sitting in seats could soon return to Ontario; cinema screenings resumed in British Columbia on July 3, with restrictions.
“The main way that this virus is spread is when you have close contact for a prolonged period of time in an enclosed space,” said Chakrabarti in an interview with CBC News.
“A movie theatre could open, but I guarantee you they’re not going to be able to have full capacity. People will be spread out.”
Gyms, other indoor fitness facilities
The closure of gyms during the pandemic has been frustrating for those who see their workout as a key way to stay healthy. They will likely be opened in Ontario’s Stage 3 but with “profound changes” to how they operate, said Deonandan.
“The services they offer will be minimal, and the number of people in any given portion of the gym will be restricted.”
While Deonandan believes pools pose little risk and weight machines can be made safe to use, spaces in which people are gathered close together and breathing heavily, such as aerobics or spin classes, could be too risky.
Other Stage 3 considerations
The maximum size of a social gathering in Ontario right now is 10. That will almost certainly be raised in Stage 3 but how high remains to be seen. Outdoor playgrounds will likely open after being closed for nearly four months.
The province will also need to decide about the ongoing closure of other spaces that can attract crowds, such as casinos, amusement parks and convention centres.
“Anything involving mass gatherings, particularly mass indoor gatherings, should remain off the table. Everything else is probably fair game,” said Deonandan.
“We can make most businesses safe.”
Physical distancing should be the guiding principle for Stage 3, said Chakrabarti, with mask-wearing indoors when that two metres of space can’t be maintained.
At the same time, he said the public health goals on the novel coronavirus need to be realistic.
“We are not looking for zero infections,” he said.
“We’re not going to eliminate COVID-19. We’re just trying to keep things controlled.”
Toronto and Peel Region will be allowed to move into the next phase of Ontario’s reopening plan on Wednesday, Premier Doug Ford said Monday.
The two public health units, along with Windsor-Essex, were previously prevented from proceeding ahead as they dealt with comparatively more new daily cases than the 31 other health units around Ontario.
The move will allow residents in Toronto and Peel to dine out on patios, get a haircut and shop in indoor malls, among other changes.
“We are confident that Toronto and Peel have met the public health criteria to join the 31 regions in Stage 2 effective this Wednesday,” said Health Minister Christine Elliott on Monday.
The news comes as Ontario continues to see new daily case counts below 200, a steady decline in hospitalizations and consistent testing levels above 20,000 per day.
Toronto, Peel and Windsor-Essex still accounted for about 70 of the 161 new cases reported provincewide on Monday, but the overall numbers of active cases in both Toronto and Peel have been in decline in recent weeks.
Speaking at his daily COVID-19 briefing, Ford said the novel coronavirus remains too much of a threat in Windsor-Essex to allow the region to reopen further this week.
“No one wants to see every region of Ontario open more than I do, but we have to do it right,” he said.
Ford placed blame squarely on farmers and workers in the region who aren’t getting tested, saying the province will send in whatever resources are needed.
“It’s frustrating to say the least,” he said.
“It’s just not fair what you’re doing right now, as simple as that. Co-operate. We’ll bend over backwards to help you.”
Meanwhile, 29 of the province’s 34 public health units confirmed five or fewer infections of the novel coronavirus yesterday.
Eighteen public health units reported no new cases at all, according to the Ministry of Health.
Slightly more than 86 per cent of Ontario’s 33,637 total cases are now marked as resolved.
There are 2,095 active cases in the province, a decrease of 56 from the last update and down considerably from the 5,600 or so that were active at the peak of the outbreak.
Further, Ontario’s network of about 30 community, commercial and hospital labs processed 21,900 test samples yesterday, while another 10,027 were added the queue.
The number of patients in hospitals with confirmed infections of the virus continued its steady decline, falling to 265 — the fewest since the Ministry of Health began reporting hospitalization figures in early April.
The number of those being treated in intensive care units and with ventilators also both declined, by 10 and 1, respectively.
Ontario’s official COVID-19 death toll grew by three, bringing it to 2,609. A CBC News count based on data from public health units put the real current total at 2,647. About three quarters of all deaths in the province were residents in long-term care homes.
3rd migrant workers dies
Meanwhile, a third migrant worker in Ontario with COVID-19 has died.
The Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit says the farm in its region currently has 199 infected migrant workers and 18 other people associated with the farm who tested positive for COVID-19.
Kristal Chopp, chair of the board of health, says it’s an “absolute tragedy” that someone who comes to Canada to work in the agricultural industry and support his family back home lost his life so far from his loved ones.
Two other migrant workers have died due to COVID-19 in the Windsor region since the start of the pandemic.
Approximately 20,000 migrant workers come to Ontario each year to work on farms and in greenhouses — many of them from Mexico, Guatemala and the Caribbean — and this year they were required to self-isolate for 14 days upon arrival.
Ontario’s top doctor says he does not feel confident that the province has met the threshold to start on its economic recovery plan — just hours after Premier Doug Ford announced the details of the first stage of reopening will be unveiled Thursday.
“We haven’t yet,” said Dr. David Williams, saying Ontario is on the seventh or eight day of a downward trend, but that the curve isn’t falling as rapidly as he’d like.
“We haven’t had all those things come together where we say now we’re ready to enter stage one. I think we’re getting closer but if it was already there, I would have already recommended it.”
Earlier Tuesday, Premier Doug Ford signalled that more “good news” is on the way as the province reported 361 new cases, a second straight day of increasing case numbers after a six-week low over the weekend.
“We’ve hit stage one on Thursday so we’ll have more details as that rolls around,” Ford said.
WATCH | Ontario Premier Doug Ford on moving toward 1st stage of reopening:
Premier Doug Ford told reporters he’ll have more good news to share the coming days, saying the province will have “hit stage one” of its recovery plan Thursday. 1:34
“On Thursday, we will share more good news,” the premier continued, adding the announcement could see the reopening of some seasonal businesses, low-risk workplaces and essential services.
The premier’s office later clarified, “”We are not announcing that we are in Stage 1 on Thursday; we’ll be providing details about Stage 1 on Thursday.”
Testing falls far short of target
The news comes as the province completed just 11,957, the current target of 16,000 tests per day and far less than the 19,525 tests there is capacity for in the system. The backlog of tests waiting to be processed sits at 10,811.
Asked about the province’s testing lag, Ford replied, “We are leading the country now in tests overall per capita… we are one of the leaders in testing globally, worldwide,” but also acknowledged “we do want to hit 20,000.”
Health Minister Christine Elliott blamed a lack of transportation for getting test samples to labs over the weekend, saying the hope is that as the economy opens up, that will no longer be an issue.
Ford also said he would like to see “random” testing for COVID-19 to create a baseline to measure what the impact of reopening the economy might be. That kind of testing would have to wait until after all long-term care residents and health-care workers are tested, the premier said.
But the chief medical officer of health discounted the idea Tuesday, saying any testing should be purpose-driven and that there would be little point to doing so otherwise.
Ford, who raised plenty of eyebrows Monday after admitting two of his daughters who don’t live in his household visited his home for a gathering over Mother’s Day weekend, was also asked when Ontarians could expect to be able to hold gatherings of more than five people.
The premier replied that he’ll have more to say Thursday on “if we’re going to move it from five to 10.”
Tuesday’s new cases mean the province has now seen 20,907 infections since the outbreak of the novel coronavirus began in late January. Nearly 74 per cent of those cases are now resolved.
The majority of cases, just over 62 per cent, continue to be concentrated in the Greater Toronto Area. The cumulative total also includes 3,485 cases that are health-care workers.
Ontario’s official death toll grew to 1,725, an increase of 56 since the last update. Data compiled from regional public health units — a more accurate snapshot of current deaths — puts the real toll at at least 1,839.
The number of COVID-19 being treated in hospitals, intensive care units and with ventilators remained relatively stable after several days of fluctuating figures:
Hospitalized: 1,025, a decrease of 2.
ICUs: 192, a decrease of 2.
Ventilators: 146, a drop of 1.
Public health officials have tracked a total of 249 COVID-19 outbreaks in long-term care facilities and 98 retirement facilities. Some 1,239 residents have died from COVID-19-linked illness, according to the Ministry of Long-term Care.
NDP calls for public inquiry into long-term care deaths
The premier was asked Tuesday if he would commit to a public inquiry the province’s handling of COVID-19 — Ontario held a public inquiry after the SARS crisis in 2003, which killed 44 people across the province. Ford said only that there would be reviews “top to bottom.”
“We’re going to do a complete review of long-term care,” said Ford, adding his government “inherited a mess,” and that province will need financial help from the federal government to tackle the problem.
Ontario’s official Opposition is calling for a full public inquiry into the long-term care system.
NDP Leader Andrea Horwath said the province must investigate the system that has been at the centre of numerous deadly outbreaks during the pandemic.
During the first question period at Ontario’s legislature in months, Ford said his government will review the system. A limited number of politicians from all parties are in attendance to conduct the session while respecting physical distancing.
The government is also extending the state of emergency in the province to June 2.
“The declaration will allow Ontario to continue to enforce current emergency orders, such as restricting retirement and long-term care home employees from working in more than one facility and prohibiting events and gatherings of more than five people,” the province said in a release.
Horwath said the province needs to examine the weaknesses in the long-term care system that made it so vulnerable to the pandemic.
“Will the premier commit to a full public inquiry into LTC with a mandate to review not only the tragedies of the last couple of weeks, but for the last couple of decades?” Horwath said.
Ford stressed that his government agrees the long-term care system in the province is “broken,” but stopped short of agreeing to the sweeping probe.
“We’re going to review the system,” he said. “A system that’s been broken for decades. I can promise you one thing, we are going to fix it. We’re going to fix it collectively as a legislature. Not just a party, but everyone in this room.”
CNE cancelled for 1st time since WWII
Also on Tuesday, the Canadian National Exhibition (CNE) announced the cancellation of its 2020 summer event, marking the first time since the Second World War that Canada’s largest fair will not be held.
The annual fair had been scheduled to run from Aug. 21 to Sep. 7 at Exhibition Place in Toronto.
“Safety always comes first at the CNE, and the decision to cancel our event is the right decision during this critical time to protect the health of all Canadians,” said John Kiru, president of the Canadian National Exhibition Association, in a statement.
The fair was last cancelled from 1942 to 1946 when it was converted into a military training and recruitment centre.
Some health care workers excluded from pay increase
Meanwhile, a union representing thousands of hospital workers says many of its members are not eligible for the province’s pandemic pay premium.
The president of the Ontario Council of Hospital Unions says maintenance staff, dietary workers and ward clerks are excluded.
Michael Hurley says those workers work in spaces where they could be exposed to the virus.
He says the funding to pay workers has also yet not flowed to hospitals.
The province announced last month that hospital workers would earn a $ 4 hourly premium and a $ 250 monthly lump sum.
Elliott says the province could still expand the pay premium to other workers.
Nurses association calls for sweeping change
Also Tuesday, the Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario updated its previous calls for change in part by incorporating lessons learned from the deadly outbreak, calling for sweeping changes to the healthcare system.
The association said the health-care system is too focused on hospitals and should instead concentrate on providing comprehensive primary care for all, and set out 13 recommendations in a report dubbed ECCO 3.0.
The recommendations include a call to integrate long-term care homes in Ontario’s regional health teams to ensure they don’t fall through the cracks of the health-care system.
Other recommendations include extending primary care into settings like homeless shelters, modernizing staffing and housing models in congregate care settings, and expanding primary care to include addiction and mental health services.
The association’s chief executive officer, Doris Grinspun, says long-term care facilities should be included in the regional health teams that are central to the redesign and which are already cropping up across the province.
Ontario’s health minister suggested there’s no need to make such inclusion mandatory, saying the association’s key recommendations are already happening naturally as regional health teams take shape.
The Ministry of Long-term Care did not immediately respond to request for comment.