Good evening, the coronavirus outbreak continues to be our top story. Let’s start with today’s developments:
PM says Canada is closing its borders to most non-citizens
In a bid to help slow the spread of coronavirus, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced today that Canada is closing its borders to most people who are not Canadian citizens or permanent residents, with a few exceptions, including Americans and diplomats.
He also said airlines will receive the formal order to ban all passengers who are presenting symptoms from getting on board, adding any person showing symptoms will not be able to enter the country..
Reiterating messages from the weekend, Trudeau told Canadians abroad: “It is time for you to come home.” And those who have recently returned from travel should self-isolate for 14 days.
World markets tumble again after U.S. Fed cuts rate to almost zero
North American stocks sank today, following markets in Asia and Europe, as oil prices tumbled and the U.S. Federal Reserve made a second emergency rate cut to avoid the world’s largest economy from falling into a recession. Comments made by U.S. President Trump regarding the effects of coronavirus lasting into the summer may have also soured sentiment.
Canada’s main stock market index tumbled to a four-year low before paring losses. The Toronto Stock Exchange Composite Index closed down 1,355.93 points or 9.9 per cent to 12,360.40, having hit its weakest since January, 2016, at 11,883.66.
U.S. stocks suffered their biggest one-day drop since 1987 as the Fed’s move fueled anxiety over a potential deep recession. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 2,997.10 points or 12.9 per cent to 20,188.52, the S&P 500 lost 324.89 points or 11.98 per cent to 2,286.13 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 970.28 points or 12.32 per cent to 6,904.59.
What companies here are doing to protect staff and the public – and to give customers a break:
Coffee chains Tim Hortons and Starbucks say they are shifting to take-out service only, which includes drive-through and delivery, and closing the seating areas in their outlets. Starbucks also says it is closing some stores in communities with high numbers of coronavirus cases, as well as in malls and on university campuses.
Apparel retailers Aritizia and Lululemon have shut down stores starting today, joining others that announced on the weekend they would temporarily close locations in Canada and the U.S.; these retailers including Apple, Nike and Urban Outfitters. Others, such as Canadian Tire and Dollarama, have said their outlets would remain open to provide people with essentials.
Meanwhile, some banks and telecommunications providers are offering customers some financial relief, waiving fees and offering flexibility on certain payments. Rogers Communications, for example, is waiving long-distance calling fees within Canada and roaming fees for Canadians who are travelling abroad. Several of the country’s largest utilities, including Hydro One, B.C. Hydro and ENMAX also announced that they will be flexible on payments.
More Canadian news:
- Canada’s Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Theresa Tam says the total number of coronavirus cases in Canada stands at 407, up from 324 reported earlier today.
- British Columbia has recorded three more deaths from COVID-19, all stemming from the Lynn Valley Care Centre, a long-term care home in North Vancouver where the first death in Canada was reported.
- The Bank of Canada unveiled new measures to keep the country’s financial system flowing and support mortgage markets.
- The Canada Border Services Agency says it is adding enhanced measures at international airports, including new screening questions for all travellers arriving from “any international destination.” Trudeau’s announcement said that as of Wednesday, only four airports - in Toronto, Vancouver, Calgary and Montreal - will accept international flights.
- Mayor Naheed Nenshi has declared the City of Calgary in a local state of emergency and ordered all city-owned and operated fitness facilities and pools, as well as public libraries, to close.
- Just hours after Ontario Premier Doug Ford said his health experts did not believe restaurants and bars should close in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, the province’s chief medical officer of health said it was time for these businesses to voluntary shut their doors.
- Air Canada says it has cut seat capacity by 50 per cent over all and by 75 per cent in the Pacific market, following news that WestJet Airlines is set to reduce its international capacity by 60 per cent and reduce domestic flights by at least 40 per cent.
Lockdowns as virus fight shifts away from China
Spain officially has become the fourth-most infected country, surpassing South Korea. Only China, Italy and Iran have more confirmed cases of COVID-19. Spain joined Italy in national lockdown yesterday, raising the total of Europeans in quarantine to more than 100 million. Here is a look at Europeans under lockdown.
But China still continues to feel the impact of the outbreak. As Globe Asia correspondent Nathan VanderKlippe reports: China has released a tally of the economic destruction inflicted by the coronavirus, which stands as a grim omen for other countries now struggling to contain the pandemic. In its first statistical report card of the year, the Chinese data mark “the sharpest fall in almost 50 years” for what is now the world’s second-largest economy.
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The first coronavirus error was complacency
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Royal Bank of Canada and Bank of Nova Scotia say they will reduce their prime rates by 50 basis points to 2.95 per cent, passing on to borrowers in full the Bank of Canada’s second interest rate cut this month. Other banks are expected to follow suit. The BoC lowered its benchmark rate on Friday as an emergency measure, following a half-point cut less than 10 days earlier.
LONG READ FOR A LONG COMMUTE
Leafs, Raptors, Jays, TFC, Argos join forces as dozens of pro teams take care of employees in the face of coronavirus
All five of Toronto’s major sports organizations have teamed up to create a special fund to help arena, stadium and support staff who need extra financial assistance because of the coronavirus.
The new Team Toronto Fund will see management, coaches and players from the Maple Leafs, Raptors, Blue Jays, Toronto FC and Argonauts contribute to provide additional aid to hourly and part-time workers who are otherwise not being paid because games have been suspended across all major leagues in North America.
Last week, as the coronavirus brought sports to a halt, thousands of workers for teams across multiple leagues were left without jobs. Some organizations, such as the Dallas Mavericks, committed almost immediately to help workers paid hourly and other part-time employees when the NBA suspended games.
Others have since fallen in line. Last night, True North Entertainment, the group that owns the Winnipeg Jets, told part-time and casual employees that they would be paid for the NHL team’s four remaining home games, as well as games that were scheduled to be played by its AHL affiliate, the Manitoba Moose. Read Marty Klinkenberg’s full story here.