Good evening, here are the COVID-19 updates you need to know tonight.
- Ontario school boards seek answers on extending mask mandate after March Break
- Deloitte reverses COVID-19 vaccine mandate, but remains one of few large employers to do so
- WHO may reject Canadian-made Medicago COVID-19 vaccine because of ties to big tobacco
Due to changes in the prevalence of testing, case counts alone are no longer a reliable indicator of the spread of COVID-19. Going forward, we will only be including the weekly death rates and hospitalizations in the newsletter. For a snapshot of COVID-19 data in Canada, go to the coronavirus tracker.
In the past seven days, there were 283 deaths announced, down 26 per cent over the same period. At least 3,607 people are being treated in hospitals.
Canada’s inoculation rate is 13th among countries with a population of one million or more people.
Sources: Canada data are compiled from government websites, Johns Hopkins and COVID-19 Canada Open Data Working Group; international data are from Johns Hopkins University.
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Coronavirus in Canada
- Ontario’s chief medical officer of health has denied at least one school board’s request to maintain a mask mandate when students return to classrooms next week. Meanwhile, new modelling suggests the possibility for a moderate increase in COVID-19 transmission over the next few weeks after the mask mandate and other public health measures are removed.
- Prince Edward Island has eased some of the province’s COVID-19 restrictions today. Private gatherings can now have up to 20 people indoors and 50 outdoors. Organized gatherings, fitness facilities, retail and museums can have up to 75 per cent capacity, while wedding and funeral receptions can have up to 100 people. Masking and isolation restrictions are still in place.
In Ottawa, Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos officially announced vaccinated travellers will no longer need to show a COVID-19 test to enter Canada beginning April 1.
- Incoming tourists will still need to be vaccinated to visit Canada, and all inbound travellers must also upload their details to the ArriveCan app.
- Unvaccinated Canadians and other travellers who are exempt from the vaccine mandate will still need to provide a negative rapid antigen or molecular test, or an accepted form of proof of recent infection to enter the country.
- Unvaccinated travellers will also be tested on arrival, again eight days later, and will be required to quarantine for 14 days.
Moderna approved for kids: Health Canada has approved the use of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine for children between the ages of six and 11 years old.
Canada-made vaccine: The World Health Organization says it expects to reject Medicago’s two-dose Covifenz COVID-19 vaccine because of the company’s ties to big tobacco.
Coronavirus around the world
- The European Medicines Agency’s leading vaccine expert said today that data on COVID-19 vaccines tailored for the Omicron variant should be available between April and the start of July, potentially paving the way for approval this summer.
- Italy plans to phase out its coronavirus restrictions more than two years after the disease first swept the country, even though cases are once again on the rise.
- U.S. President Joe Biden met virtually today with Irish Prime Minister Micheal Martin after the visiting leader tested positive for COVID-19. The trial of four men accused of plotting to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer resumed in federal court in Grand Rapids, Mich., after a three-day delay due to someone in the courtroom testing positive for COVID-19.
Coronavirus and business
Deloitte Canada is reversing its mandatory vaccination policy for employees, so far being one of the few big white-collar employers to walk back vaccine mandates for employees.
- The other Big Four accounting firms – KPMG, PWC Canada and EY Canada – are keeping vaccine requirements in place, according to statements to The Globe and Mail. All of the Big Five banks – Bank of Montreal, Bank of Nova Scotia, Toronto-Dominion Bank, Royal Bank of Canada and Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce – also said they would continue sticking to a compulsory vaccination policy for employees.
And: As provinces end the last of their COVID-19 public-health restrictions, small businesses are preparing for an influx of customers – and many businesses are choosing to keep masks in place, despite mandates ending.
Also today: As Canadian companies look with anticipation to the end of pandemic employment restrictions and a return to some semblance of how we worked pre-COVID-19, they need to be prepared for new relationships with employees.
Plus: The Globe wants to know: How do you feel about returning to the office? In this survey, share your thoughts and feelings about return-to-work plans, remote work, and the traditional 9-to-5.
- ‘Workcations’ embraced by Canadians, companies looking to improve work-life balance
- Everything you need to know about Canada’s travel restrictions for vaccinated and unvaccinated people
- Where do I book a COVID-19 booster or a vaccine appointment for my kids? Latest rules by province
- What is and isn't 'paid sick leave' in Canada? A short primer
- Got a vaccine 'hangover'? Here's why
Sources: Canada data are compiled from government websites, Johns Hopkins University and COVID-19 Canada Open Data Working Group; international data are from Johns Hopkins.