COVID-19: What you need to know for March 17, 2020

We're in the movies now

Rounding up the latest news, closures, health updates, and busting myths around COVID-19.

The Ontario provincial government officially declared a state of emergency Tuesday morning. Premier Doug Ford announced the the province is set to enforce the closure of restaurants and bars, while limiting gatherings to 50 people or less.

That’s going to mean any remaining recreation and play centres will be shuttered, and the same goes for movie theatres.

Ford and Co. stressed that this is not a provincial shutdown. Essential businesses such as grocery stores, drug stores, and public transit will remain open.

Public health officials have continued to stress the importance of everyone doing their part to flatten the curve. The window to do so is rapidly narrowing, so while the decision to declare a state of emergency may seem like an extreme measure, it is not. It’s temporary, and a vital step in the effort to return to regularly scheduled lives in the coming weeks and months.

Here’s what else is shaking down on this anything but ordinary St. Patrick’s Day.

The Good

Some reassurance from the grocery ruling class

Many of the public’s questions about our biggest grocer’s plans amid the coronavirus crisis were addressed in a statement from Galen Weston, the Executive Chairman of Loblaw Companies Limited, on Monday night.

Weston asked consumers to take a step back from panic shopping, assuring the public that supply chains are open and stores will be restocked. There will also be some early morning hours at Loblaws and Shoppers Drug Mart stores dedicated to seniors and patrons requiring more assistance.

A timeout on new evictions

The provincial government is putting a temporary pause on new evictions in light of the coronavirus outbreak.

“Tribunals Ontario is reviewing pending eviction matters in light of the rapidly evolving circumstances related to COVID-19 and no new eviction orders will be issued until further notice,” a statement from the Ministry of the Attorney General reads.

Sheriff’s offices will not enforce any scheduled evictions for at least this week. This is a good first step to protecting some of our most vulnerable populations. Let’s see more.

Let’s all get creative

Bleeps and bloops are free for all.

“Schools, workplaces, and meetings worldwide have been requested to close by their respective governments and so many people are studying and working from home,” Korg wrote on its website. “To help you with a musical way to occupy your mind we have decided to make the Kaossilator app for iOS and Android free of charge for a limited time.”

March of the Penguins

Closure of the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago over the weekend led to day of fun for the aquarium’s penguin population.


 

The Bad

Playing politics with our border

On Monday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that Canada was closing its border to non-residents, and called for all Canadians abroad to come home while they still can.

Of note, our border remains open to citizens of the United States of America. The PM took a lot of criticism, for what appears to be partly an economic decision and a political one. Keeping things relaxed on our neighbours to the south could allow for easier transportation of goods between the two nations, sure. But, was Trudeau’s move to keep the country open to American citizens an effort to prevent any foolhardy retaliation from President Donald Trump?

I try to stay away from pure speculation in these news roundups, but this is something to monitor. Trudeau stated that anyone displaying symptoms of COVID-19 will be denied entry into Canada, so it’s not as though we’re going to sit back and allow some sort of great migration north. We’re probably also overestimating how many average Americans actually have a passport.

Let’s see how this plays out.
 

The Really?!

First against the wall


 

A song for the times