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9:30 pm Toronto Regional Real Estate Board tells members to stop open houses
The Toronto Regional Real Estate Board has strongly recommended that its 56,000 realtor members cease conducting in-person open houses to help stop the spread of COVID-19. “TRREB will be suppressing open houses on its Stratus MLS system and our public facing websites trreb.ca, Collaborate and realtor.ca, until it is safe to restore,” TRREB resident Michael Collins said in a statement on Saturday.
5:51 pm Update on Toronto’s COVID-19 cases
The city’s medical officer of health Eileen de Villa said today that, as of 1 pm today, Toronto’s number of cases is now 193. Ten of those cases are hospitalized.
5:09 pm City finds housing for people in the shelter system with COVID-19
Toronto’s general manager of shelter support and housing Mary-Anne Bedard said the city has found locations for people using the shelter system who have COVID-19.
At a press conference on Saturday, Bedard was asked how the city is responding to a confirmed case of COVID-19 at a homeless shelter.
“We have been rapidly rehousing people,” said Bedard, who specified that they put 15 people into permanent housing this week.
She explained that all shelter locations are using advance cleaning and disinfection measures and screening processes at all points of entry.
“We’ve created new space for people to self-isolate due to travel or exposure,” says Bedard. “We’re the first in Canada to create a medically supported isolation site for people while they wait for test results. We’ve increased hotel accommodation for people in shelter.”
4:28 pm Loblaws to raise staff pay $2 per hour during COVID-19
Loblaws, one of the city’s biggest grocery chains, has announced it will raise staff pay by $2 per hour during the coronavirus crisis, retroactive to March 8.
“Ongoing discussions with Loblaw have resulted in a $2 an hour wage increase for front-line employees across the country,” wrote UFCW, the union representing 90,000 Loblaw employees, in a press release. The increase be applied to the hourly rates of both full-time and part-time workers at all Loblaw stores and associated banners, they added.
The union commended the chain for the move, and also praised Sobeys for the recent addition of Plexiglas guards at checkout stations in its stores.
For more COVID-19 retail news, click here.
3:38 pm Ontario’s third COVID-19 death reported in Muskoka
The Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit (SMDHU) has confirmed the province’s third COVID-19-related death. The individual, a man in his 70s, was being treated at the Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre (RVH) in Barrie. He had been in close contact with an individual with COVID-19 who died at the same hospital on March 11.
Both cases were reported publicly within the past week.
“This is sad news and we are offering our condolences to the family,” said Dr. Charles Gardner, SMDHU’s medical officer of health, in a statement. “It speaks to the need to be more aware of the seriousness of the current situation than ever and that we, as a community, as organizations and as individuals, need to work together to protect one another.
“I am urging everyone to follow social distancing recommendations and follow public health measures so that we can flatten the curve of this disease,” he added.
There are now nine cases of COVID-19 in Simcoe Muskoka. The most recent is a woman in her late 30s, who was hospitalized in Newmarket on March 17 in serious condition. It is believed she acquired the infection from community spread.
3:34 pm Torontonians face up to $100,000 in fines for breaking public health rules
A Toronto Police spokesperson told NOW that the city has instructed the force to fine people who don’t follow public health rules around large social gatherings – and the amounts are steep.
“If requested by Municipal Licensing Standards to enforce non-compliance with Public Health directives, the Toronto Police Service would assist,” said TPS communications rep Meaghan Gray in an email to NOW. “As of today, that has not been requested and, therefore, no fines to report.”
Gray added that individuals and businesses who do not comply could face fines up to $100,000 for individuals and $10 million for businesses, and in some cases criminal charges could be laid. The fine amounts were provided to police by the city, Gray said.
“The city is setting up an enforcement team led by Toronto Public Health,” she said. “City staff will be monitoring and providing information and education to non-compliant individuals and businesses.
“In some cases, enforcement staff will escalate to Toronto Police for further enforcement actions, including the laying of tickets and charges under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act. Set fines of $750 are available.”
The public can report non-compliant restaurants or large gatherings through 311.
Read the full story here.
1:50 pm Ontario launches portal for businesses to remedy supply issues
The province has launched a portal for businesses called Ontario Together to help meet supply challenges in the fight against COVID-19.
“This initiative will remove barriers allowing Ontario’s manufacturing sector to redeploy capacity towards the production of essential equipment like ventilators, masks and swabs,” the government said in a press release.
The idea behind the website is to identify supply challenges and solicit ideas, advice and proposals from manufacturers and other businesses on how the government can meet the need for products in short supply such as hand sanitizer, medical testing equipment and protective gear.
“Our frontline healthcare workers are running out of key items,” Premier Doug Ford said during his daily news conference. “If you can retool your business to make these products, if you can supply these essential items, we need to hear from you right now. If you need funding to make it happen, we’ll find a way to help you. We know what we need. We know the products that are in short supply.”
Earlier this week, several craft gin distillers shifted their operations to start producing hand sanitizer.
11:50 am Starbucks closes all cafe locations
On Friday night, Starbucks announced it would be shuttering all of its cafe locations and moving solely to drive-thru and delivery only, effective immediately.
The company added in a release that some exceptions would be made for cafes serving in or around hospitals “in our efforts to serve thousands of first responders and health care workers who are on the front line”.
Visit the Starbucks website for more info.
11:25 am Canada arranging commercial flights for Canadians stranded abroad
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Saturday that the Canadian government is organizing commercial flights to help Canadian travellers overseas return home. The first flight is leaving Morocco this weekend and others will potentially leave from Peru and Spain. Other destinations will be announced soon.
“We won’t be able to reach everyone but we’re going to do our best to help those we can,” he said, adding that the government is taking a few things into account before organizing commercial flights: the number of Canadians in a location, the closure of local airspace and local situation.
“Public health policies will apply to these flights. Everyone has to isolate for 14 days once they’re back,” he said. “If you’re showing symptoms of COVID-19, you won’t be able to board.”
He added that Canadians will have to pay for their tickets, but the government is working out an agreement with airlines to cover extra costs and to ensure “responsible ticket prices.”
Canadians abroad should register with Global Affairs Canada if they have not already done so.
11 am Ontario reports 58 new cases of COVID-19
Public health officials have confirmed 58 new cases of COVID-19 in the province, with one new recovery. Ontario’s total cases is now 377, including two deaths and six resolved.
There are 7,239 cases still under investigation and 15,768 have tested negative.
On Friday, the province announced expanded measures to help curb spread, including a new interactive version of the self-assessment tool, waiving the three-month OHIP waiting period and covering the cost of COVID-19 care for uninsured people who don’t normally qualify for publicly funded health insurance.