Top COVID-19 stories and news Meet five.
6:08 pm Uber passengers required to wear masks as of May 18
Uber will require Canadians to wear masks starting on May 18, the company said on Wednesday.
The ride-hailing app unveiled a series of safety protocols for both drivers and passengers, which includes photo-verification software that will indicate to riders that their driver is wearing a mask.
If a driver is not wearing a mask, the rider can cancel the trip without getting hit with a penalty fee, the company said.
There are rules for passengers too. Riders must now confirm that they’re wearing a face cover, have washed or sanitized their hands, agree to sit in the back seat and open windows for ventilation before being allowed to board.
“Drivers and riders who repeatedly violate mask policies risk losing access to Uber,” the company said in a statement.
The maximum suggested number of passengers for an UberX is being reduced to three from four.
Uber Canada says it has allocated $50 million to purchase masks for drivers and delivery people and already has a stockpile of 23 million masks.
Read more about Uber’s new rules here.
5:56 pm Toronto reports 169 new COVID-19 cases, 12 deaths
Toronto Public Health has reported 169 new COVID-19 infections in the city, bringing Toronto’s total cases to 7,944. Of those cases, 5,655 people have recovered, an increase of 206 since yesterday. The total number of people who have died is 634, an increase of 12 since the day before.
4:43 pm City reports second death from COVID-19 in shelter system
A second resident of Toronto’s shelter system has died from COVID-19. Medical Officer of Health Eileen de Villa said today that a man in his 70s who was a resident at Seaton house died in hospital on May 11.
An outbreak was declared at Seaton House on April 6 and 28 clients later tested positive and were moved offsite into isolation. “All of the appropriate measures are being taken to protect the health of residents and staff at this facility,” de Villa said.
4:10 pm Toronto wants to expand patio space this summer
Toronto will look at expanding patio space to help restaurants recover from lockdown measures this summer. No timeline has been announced around when restaurants and bars will be allowed to reopen, but Mayor John Tory said today establishments will likely be required to space out tables for physical distancing.
“I asked city staff to come back with a plan to expand patio space on appropriate sidewalks and streets,” Tory said, adding that he wants to “sweep away red tape and get this done.”
Tory also announced that the city has inked a deal with pick-up app Ritual. Businesses that sign up with its Ritual ONE service by June 1 will receive the service free for life and not pay any commission or monthly subscription fees. The offer is also available to restaurants that are already using Ritual.
1:40 pm Ontario not yet at “stage one” for reopening: Ford
Premier Doug Ford said today that the province is not yet ready to initiate the first stage of the provincial reopening plan. “We aren’t at stage one quite yet. We’re asking people to get ready for stage one,” Ford said during his daily news conference.
The premier will release details on what stage one will entail tomorrow.
1:34 pm Decision on whether schools will reopen coming “early next week”
Ontario Education Minister Stephen Lecce said today the government will update the public on the status of the school year “early next week.”
Lecce said the province is awaiting updated projection modelling data and consulting with the chief medical officer of health, as well as other stakeholders including Sick Kids Hospital.
“We can confirm by early next week the plan will be communicated to the public transparently,” he said. “We’ll let you know both the decision for June as well as our intention to scale up our learning plan in a significant way for the summer to keep our kids engaged in the curriculum.”
11:49 am Trudeau says it’s too soon in the crisis for a budget or fiscal update
During Tuesday’s federal finance committee meeting, Parliamentary Budget Officer Yves Giroux said Canada’s debt could reach $1 trillion in this fiscal year thanks to the coronavirus pandemic.
Today, the prime minister was asked when Canadians can expect a budget or a complete financial picture of what the crisis is costing.
“A budget is something that usually projects what’s going to happen in the Canadian economy for the next 12 months,” Justin Trudeau said during his daily news conference. “Right now we’re having a lot of difficulty of establishing with any certainty what’s going to happen in the next 12 weeks.”
He added that his government’s focus is on the short term and ensuring the country is safe for “careful reopening.”
11:15 am Applications for emergency student benefit open on Friday
Students and recent graduates start applying for the Canada Emergency Student Benefit starting Friday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said today.
The benefit is part of a $9 billion program for students. The benefit gives students up to $1,250 per month from May to August. Students that take care of someone else or have a disability will get $1,750 per month. People making up to $1,000 per month and attending post-secondary school right now, going to college in fall or graduated in December 2019 are eligible.
This week, a Statistics Canada survey said that over half of Canadian students who were employed in March reported either losing their job or being laid off by May.
11:05 am Ontario reports 329 new COVID-19 cases, 40 deaths
Ontario has reported 329 new COVID-19 cases – a 1.6 per cent increase since the previous report. That’s a slightly lower increase than in the previous two days. The province’s total number of cases is now 21,236.
Nearly three-quarters of Ontario’s cases – or 15,845 – are resolved. Another 40 people have died since yesterday, bringing the provincial death toll to 1,765.
The number of tests completed since the previous report has gone up to 15,137 and another 13,395 cases are under investigation.
There are 1,018 people in hospital, with 189 in intensive care and 144 in intensive care on ventilators.
9:15 am Ontario nurse working in London long-term care home dies of COVID-19
An registered nurse working in a long-term care home in London, Ontario has died of COVID-19.
The Ontario Nurses Association said in a statement that Brian Beattie worked at Kensington Village, which has experienced an outbreak.
“This is a tragedy for all of us,” ONA president Vicki McKenna said in a statement. “Brian was a well-liked and respected registered nurse. He was the definition of dedication, and he considered his colleagues and residents to be his ‘other family.’ He loved the work he did and he also advocated for his colleagues to have personal protective equipment to keep both them and the residents safe. He will be deeply missed by his colleagues and the residents he cared for.”
9 am Ontario emergency order allows government to take control of long-term care homes
Ontario has adopted an emergency order allowing the government to take control of long-term care homes struggling to deal with a COVID-19 outbreak.
The order allows the province to appoint a manager that could be “any person, including a corporation or a hospital,” the government said in a news release. Decisions when to bring in additional management to help homes deal with a high number of cases among residents or staff, an ongoing outbreak, a high number of deaths, staffing and infection prevention and control measures will be made on a case-by-case basis.
“By taking this step, we will be better prepared to immediately swing into action if a home is struggling to contain this deadly virus,” Premier Doug Ford said in a statement.
Over 1,200 long-term care residents have died in Ontario and there are 180 confirmed outbreaks in care homes.
9 am Toronto Police arrest woman for allegedly spitting on ATM
Toronto Police said they have arrested arrested a woman for allegedly spitting, coughing and wiping saliva on a bank machine and the surrounding area.
Police said the incident took place on April 30 around 5:30 am in the at the Pape and Cosburn area. Staff at the bank discovered the incident at 9 am and a security camera photo was released. The suspect was identified last week, police said.
Holly Hobbs, 32, was arrested on Tuesday and charged with mischief. She is scheduled to appear at court at College Park on Wednesday.
9 am Canada has over 71,000 cases of COVID-19
There are 71,157 cases of COVID-19 in Canada and 5,169 people have died.
The outbreak is a serious public health threat though most people who contract the virus have not been hospitalized.
Symptoms include cough, fever, difficulty breathing and pneumonia in both lungs and may take up to 14 days to appear after exposure. People age 65 and over and people with compromised immune systems and/or underlying medical conditions have a higher risk of contracting a severe case.