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The National pub's patio on 17th Avenue, in Calgary, on May 10, 2021. Restaurants can seat diners inside rather than just on patios as Alberta lifts many COVID-19 public health restrictions today as part of a three-stage reopening plan.

Todd Korol/The Globe and Mail

Many of Alberta’s COVID-19 public health restrictions are being lifted today as part of a three-stage plan to reopen by summer.

The province is entering the second stage, which required 60 per cent of those 12 and older to have had at least one vaccine shot and fewer than 500 infected patients in hospitals.

Officials say 67 per cent of Albertans have received their first dose.

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Entertainment venues, including movie theatres, casinos and museums, are being allowed to reopen at one-third capacity.

Restaurants can seat diners inside rather than just on patios, and private social gatherings outdoors can have up to 20 people.

There are no longer any restrictions on youth and adult sports.

Up to 150 people are being allowed at public outdoor events, and grandstands for sports and other entertainment can open at one-third capacity.

Masking and distancing requirements are still in place.

The final phase, which would lift a ban on indoor gatherings, is to occur once 70 per cent of eligible recipients have had at least one dose of vaccine and hospitalization rates continue to decline.

It would still include isolation requirements for confirmed cases of COVID-19 and some protective measures in continuing – care settings.

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Alberta also expanded eligibility for second doses to about 650,000 people who received their first dose in April and reported its lowest active case count of COVID-19 since October.

There were about 3,810 active infections in the province. Of those, 178 cases were reported Thursday.

A total of 306 people are in hospital because of the virus including 81 in intensive care.

Ontario to release new COVID-19 projections today ahead of economic reopening

Ontario is to release new COVID-19 projections today on the eve of its economic reopening.

New modelling will be presented at the afternoon pandemic update with the province’s top doctor.

Those numbers will come as the province prepares to enter the first step of its reopening plan on Friday, which will allow limited retail shopping and patio dining.

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New COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations have dropped in recent weeks and the province is moving ahead with the first step of its reopening plan a few days early.

More restrictions will loosen after 21 days if pandemic indicators improve and more people get vaccinated.

Despite positive trends, officials say they’re monitoring the spread of a more infectious virus variant.

Ontario speeds up second vaccine doses for residents of Delta hot spots

Ontario is speeding up second COVID-19 vaccine doses for residents who live in hot spots where the Delta variant of the virus is spreading.

The province says residents who live in seven hot spots and got their first dose on or before May 9 can now book an accelerated second shot as of Monday.

The government will also be encouraging residents of those areas who haven’t had their first doses to get vaccinated.

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The hot spots that will be prioritized are Halton, Peel, Porcupine, Toronto, Waterloo, York and Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph.

Scientific evidence shows people with one vaccine dose are less protected against the highly infectious Delta variant.

Health authorities also reported that Ontario has become one of the world’s leaders in terms of first-dose vaccination rates.

Legault says he’s confident Quebec-Ontario boundary will reopen in ‘next few days’

The boundary between Quebec and Ontario, closed since April to reduce COVID-19 transmission, will likely reopen within days, Quebec Premier François Legault said Thursday.

“We are in discussion with the Ontario government, and I am confident that in the next few days we will be able to open the borders,” Legault told reporters in Quebec City.

The Ontario government had recently extended its ban on non-essential travel from Quebec and Manitoba until at least June 16.

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As for the border between Canada and the United States, Legault said discussions with the federal government are ongoing.

Federal Health Minister Patty Hajdu said Wednesday that fully vaccinated Canadian citizens and permanent residents who test negative for COVID-19 will likely soon be exempt from two weeks of quarantine on return to Canada.

Legault admitted on Thursday his government has had trouble implementing its plan to accelerate the timeline for second COVID-19 vaccine doses.

Quebec reports 189 new COVID-19 cases and two additional deaths

Quebec is reporting 189 new cases of COVID-19 today and two more deaths attributed to the novel coronavirus, none of which occurred in the past 24 hours.

Health officials say hospitalizations dropped by six, to 251, and 64 people were in intensive care, a rise of four.

The province says 84,936 doses of COVID-19 vaccine were administered Wednesday; about 67.2 per cent of Quebecers have received at least one dose.

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Later today, Health Minister Christian Dubé will present his government’s plan to catch up on surgeries that have been delayed because of the pandemic.

He has said he wants to wait until the end of August to start reducing the backlog in order to give health-care workers a summer break.

About 150,000 surgeries have been delayed in Quebec.

Ontario reports 590 new cases of COVID-19, 11 deaths, more than 182,000 vaccinations

Ontario is reporting 590 new cases of COVID-19 today and 11 more deaths linked to the virus.

Health Minister Christine Elliott says there are 130 new cases in Peel Region, 114 in Toronto, and 61 in Waterloo.

She says there are also 38 new cases in Hamilton and 32 in York Region.

Today’s data is based on more than 31,400 tests completed.

The Ministry of Health says 516 people are hospitalized with the novel coronavirus – 450 in intensive care and 291 on a ventilator.

Ontario says 182,350 doses of a COVID-19 vaccine were administered since Wednesday’s report for a total of more than 10.6 million.

Manitoba to lay out reopening plans as COVID-19 continues to pressure hospitals

Manitoba says it will loosen public health restrictions as more people get vaccinated against COVID-19.

The government’s reopening plan focuses on gatherings, travel, shopping and dining. Restrictions in those areas will be loosened if vaccination goals are met by certain dates.

“The more of us who get vaccinated, the faster we can regain our freedoms and enjoy what we’ve lost this past year and a half,” Premier Brian Pallister said Thursday.

The first immunization target is to have more than 70 per cent of Manitobans 12 and older with a first dose and more than 25 per cent with a second dose by Canada Day.

If that happens, the province says, businesses and other facilities will be able to open at 25 per cent capacity.

Businesses will be allowed to open at half capacity if 75 per cent of people have had one dose and 50 per cent have had a second shot by the August long weekend.

Manitoba is moving ahead Saturday to allow small outdoor gatherings, but restrictions on businesses will remain in place.

Top doctor says B.C. on track to ease more restrictions next week

British Columbia’s top doctor says she’s confident more COVID-19 restrictions can be lifted next week as planned due to dramatic declines in cases and because the person-to-person transmission rate has dropped.

Dr. Bonnie Henry says fewer infections reflect the power of vaccines, with nearly 73 per cent of eligible residents aged 12 and up having had their first shot.

However, only about eight per cent of those 18 and over have received both doses of a vaccine as the province pushes for more people to register for a second shot.

B.C. is expected to move to the second of its four-step reopening plan next Tuesday, when, among other things, indoor and outdoor personal gatherings of up to 50 people will be allowed.

A return to travel within the province, high-intensity indoor group exercise and team sports are also part of the next step, and Henry says increased contact is expected to cause a rise in manageable clusters of the virus.

B.C. has recorded 153 new cases and four more deaths, for a total of 1,729 fatalities.

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