COVID-19: Pharmacies to offer vaccines 24/7; Toronto and Peel order businesses with outbreaks to close

"Workplaces that remain open continue to be a major driver of COVID-19 cases in Peel," the region's top doctor Lawrence Loh said

Top COVID-19 stories and news

Here’s the list of people eligible for vaccines in Phase 2

Here are the rules for Ontario’s new stay-at-home-order

Select pharmacies to offer vaccines 24/7 in Toronto, Peel and York

1:45 pm Twenty Shoppers Drug Mart pharmacies in Ontario will start offering COVID-19 vaccinations 24 hours a day, seven days a week, the province announced on Wednesday.

Sixteen of the pharmacies are located in hot spots and could begin vaccinating 24/7 as early as tomorrow, the government said. Eleven of the pharmacies are located in Toronto (see the list here).

“As early as tomorrow, April 21, 2021, 20 Shoppers Drug Mart locations, including 16 in the hot-spot communities of Toronto, Peel and York Region, will begin offering the AstraZeneca/COVISHIELD vaccine 24/7 to individuals aged 40 and over,” the government said in a statement. “When the province begins to receive more vaccine supply from the federal government, it will expand 24/7 COVID-19 vaccinations to additional hot spot areas.”

The province said pharmacies can also start accepting walk-in patients in addition to booking appointments.

Starting today, eligibility to receive the AstraZeneca vaccine at pharmacies expanded to people age 40 and up. Find the full list of around 1,400 pharmacies offering doses across the province here.

Toronto to order closure of essential workplaces with five or more cases

1:20 pm Toronto is following Peel Region and issuing a Section 22 order to close workplaces in the city with five or more COVID-19 cases. The order will take effect on Friday, April 23.

In a statement, the city said the order will shut “certain workplaces, or portions of workplaces, where five or more confirmed cases are identified within a 14-day period and where cases could reasonably have been acquired through infection in the workplace.”

“Workplaces that are open provide an opportunity for COVID-19 to spread,” Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health Eileen de Villa said in a statement. “Given that the majority of our cases are now as a result of variants of concern, which transmit faster, this order will support Toronto Public Health’s investigators to help workplaces immediately reduce the risk of spread and manage workplace outbreaks quickly.”

Under the order:

• The workplace closure will be in effect for a minimum period of 10 calendar days.
• During this time, workers at the affected workplace will be required to self-isolate.
• Certain workplaces, such as health care facilities, schools, child care centres, and workplaces providing critical services may be exempt from full closure requirements.

As of April 15, there were 59 community and workplace outbreaks in Toronto. The city also lists the names of employers with active outbreaks on its COVID-19 dashboard. Employers on the list include Amazon Fulfillment Centre, Body Plus, Maple Leaf Foods, Canada Post, Athletic Knit and Tempur Sealy Canada.

Toronto lists outdoor amenities that are opened and closed

11:55 am Here is the list of outdoor amenities that are open and closed in accordance with Ontario’s stay-at-home order. The province walked back a ban on playgrounds over the weekend, but tennis courts, picnic tables and outdoor fitness equipment will close down.

City officials have said it will take one week for staff to close the amenities and post signage in more than 15,00 parks.

Open amenities:

• Parks and beaches
• Playgrounds
• Washrooms
• Dog off-leash areas
• Benches in parks or recreational areas
• Community and allotment gardens

All other outdoor recreational amenities not listed above, are closed under provincial regulations, including:

• Picnic tables and shelters
• Golf courses
• Disk golf courses
• Sports courts and fields (i.e. basketball and tennis courts, soccer fields, baseball diamonds, lawn bowling greens)
• BMX and skate parks
• Outdoor fitness equipment
• Dry pads

Ontario reports 3,469 new COVID-19 cases, 22 deaths

10:45 am Ontario reported 3,469 new cases of COVID-19 and 22 more deaths on April 20.

Today’s count is down from the 4,447 cases reported on Monday, and the 3,670 cases confirmed last Tuesday. The seven-day average for new infections is now 4,319, up from 3,868 this time last week.

There were 4,250 new cases on Sunday, 4,362 on Saturday and a record-high 4,812 on Friday.

The number of hospitalizations is continuing to rise. Another 158 people were hospitalized in the past day, bringing the province-wide total to 2,360. There are 773 patients in intensive care units, up by 18 since yesterday. Of those patients, 537 are breathing with the help of a ventilator.

Labs in the province completed 40,596 tests in the past day, making for a positivity rate of 10 per cent – down slightly from 10.3 per cent a week ago.

Today’s deaths include one person between the ages of 20 and 39 and five people between the ages of 40 and 59.

“Locally, there are 1,074 new cases in Toronto, 775 in Peel, 406 in York Region, 256 in Durham and 197 in Ottawa,” Health Minister Christine Elliott said on Twitter.

Ontario labs confirmed another 2,697 cases of the fast-spreading B117 variant, which is now the dominant strain of the virus in the province.

Ontario is nearing the four million mark for vaccinations. As of 8 pm last night, Ontario had administered 3,995,187 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Peel Region orders workplaces with COVID-19 cases to close

10:30 pm Peel Region’s Medical Officer of Health Lawrence Loh has ordered all businesses with five or more linked COVID-19 cases in the past 14 days to shut down for 10 days.

The move comes amid criticism of the provincial government’s most recent lockdown restrictions, which medical experts and opposition politicians say do not go far enough to protect essential workers from highly contagious variants of concern.

The order, issued under Section 22 of the Health Protection and Promotion Act, directs the businesses to close if the “cases could have reasonably acquired their infection at work” or “obvious source of infection has been identified outside of the workplace.”

“Workplaces that remain open continue to be a major driver of COVID-19 cases in Peel, as they have been throughout the course of our emergency response,” Loh said in a statement. “With variant spread we are also seeing transmission occur more quickly and widely.”

The closures will also allow Peel Public Health to investigate workplace exposures without spreading the virus further, he said.

Loh is urging affected employers to provide paid leave for impacted employees and added Peel Public Health will publicly list all businesses required to shut down on its website.

Businesses exempt from the order include healthcare, first responders, critical infrastructure, emergency childcare, education and more. A full list of exemptions will be included in the order later today.

Peel Region’s COVID-19 dashboard lists 402 workplace outbreaks in the region, including 148 in the manufacturing/industrial sector. Retail ranks second, with 50 workplace outbreaks.

New COVID-19 cases in Ontario on April 20

The following regions reported five or more new COVID-19 cases:

Toronto = 1,074

Peel Region = 775

Durham Region = 256

York Region = 406

Ottawa = 197

HaltonRegion = 130

Niagara Region = 106

Middlesex-London = 78

Simcoe Muskoka = 77

Region of Waterloo = 76

Windsor-Essex = 46

Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph = 46

City of Hamilton = 45

Brant County = 27

Southwestern = 20

Kingston, Frontenac and Lennox & Addington = 14

Grey Bruce = 13

Haldimand-Norfolk = 13

Porcupine = 11

Eastern Ontario = 9

Leeds, Grenville & Lanark = 8

Lambton = 7

Sudbury & Districts = 5

Northwestern = 5

Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge = 5


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