Old restrictions new again amid fast rising COVID threat

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Published December 18, 2021 at 4:00 am

As infections soar across the country, restrictions are being reintroduced in a desperate effort to try to slow the rampant spread of COVID-19’s Omicron variant.

On Tuesday, Canada will reimpose a requirement for everyone entering the country to have a pre-arrival negative molecular test result for COVID-19, even if travellers are returning after being away for under 72 hours.

In announcing the move Friday, federal Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos advised Canadians against travelling outside the country, warning that if they get sick abroad they could become stranded, with the government unable to do much to help them.

Chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam said Omicron numbers have rapidly risen since last week, and she too urged Canadians to adjust their holiday plans.

Tam also stressed that being fully vaccinated and getting a booster shot is likely to provide reasonable protection against infection and probably strong protection against severe illness.

In the face of the growing COVID threat, provincial governments are being forced to respond with measurers discouragingly reminiscent of last year’s troubled holiday season.

Ontario and Quebec, which are now seeing COVID cases approaching a record 4,000 a day, are placing 50 per cent capacity limits on stores, bars, restaurants, concert halls and other venues while also reducing the cap on most indoor and outdoor social gatherings.

On Monday, British Columbia will impose new restrictions limiting the capacity of large venues to 50 per cent, banning amateur sports tournaments over the holidays and cancelling New Year’s Eve parties.

Manitoba will bring in similar restrictions on Tuesday.

Meanwhile in Nova Scotia, where COVID cases hit a record 394 on Friday, chief medical health officer Dr. Robert Strang said testing and vaccinations are now shifting to the most vulnerable.

He added many of those who test positive will have to manage their own cases without hands-on support from public health.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 18, 2021.

The Canadian Press

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