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Good evening, let’s start with today’s top stories:

Ontario and Quebec order non-essential businesses to close

Ontario and Quebec have announced near-complete shutdowns in a bid to halt the spread of the coronavirus.

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Ontario: Premier Doug Ford says the order for non-essential businesses to close will come into effect tomorrow at 11:59 p.m. and last for 14 days, but could be extended. He said food, medicine and “essential products” would remain available, and the province will release a list tomorrow of businesses allowed to stay open. The LCBO and Beer Store were expected to be on that list, although officials could not confirm that as of this afternoon.

Ford also said he doesn’t believe children will be returning to school on April 6, when a two-week closing after March Break was originally scheduled to end. He said his Education Minister would provide details in the coming days.

Quebec: Premier François Legault says all non-essential businesses in Quebec to close tomorrow night until April 13. Only grocery stores, pharmacies, banks, media and a few other services will be allowed to stay open

Tokyo Olympic Games to be postponed, IOC’s Dick Pound says

The International Olympic Committee has decided to postpone the Tokyo 2020 Summer Games because of the coronavirus pandemic, IOC member Dick Pound told USA Today. Late yesterday, Canada announced it would not be sending athletes to the Olympics or Paralympics if the games were not postponed for a year, a move Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in remarks today was “the right call.”

‘Go home and stay home,’ plus more from Trudeau’s briefing today

In his daily press conference, the Prime Minister said the federal government will do whatever it takes to ensure people aren’t congregating in groups during the coronavirus pandemic. “Enough is enough. Go home and stay home,” he said.

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Asked for details, he told reporters: “I can tell you we haven’t taken anything off the table, from the Emergencies Act to new measures or existing measures under the Quarantine Act.”

Other Canadian developments:

Trudeau says Ottawa has signed deals with companies and researchers to continue their work on vaccines and treatments against COVID-19.

He also announced new flights to bring stranded Canadians home from North Africa, Europe and Latin America, involving Air Canada, Air Transat, WestJet and Sunwing.

Economic fallout:

Tour and airline operator Transat AT says it has temporarily laid off 3,600 employees, or about 70 per cent of its work force, as it prepares to halt all flights by April 1.

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Cineplex is asking full-time staff to take a pay cut and says members of the executive team are suspending their own pay for two weeks.

Winnipeg-based NFI Group says about 6,500 employees will be affected while it closes a majority of facilities for two weeks starting March 30, if not sooner. It is also laying off about 300 workers.

Abroad:

Meanwhile, U.S. President Donald Trump was sending a very different message than Trudeau’s on social distancing, suggesting the United States should ease up on the practice starting next week because it’s hurting the economy.

Former movie producer Harvey Weinstein, who is serving a prison sentence for sexual assault and rape, has tested positive for the coronavirus, the head of the New York State corrections officers union says.

Have you had to self-quarantine because of the coronavirus? We want to hear your story. Email: tips@globeandmail.com

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MARKET WATCH

Global equities slid further and safe-haven assets rose today after a massive array of new programs from the U.S. Federal Reserve underscored the “severe” disruptions the coronavirus pandemic poses to a fast-weakening world economy.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 582.05 points or 3.04 per cent to 18,591.93, the S&P 500 lost 67.52 points or 2.93 per cent to close at 2,237.40 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 18.85 points or 0.27 per cent to 6,860.67.

The Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX Composite index closed down 623.32 points or 5.26 per cent at 11,228.49, as falling crude prices pushed the energy sector lower.

Looking for investing ideas? Check out The Globe’s weekly digest of the latest insights and analysis from the pros, stock tips, portfolio strategies and what investors need to know for the week ahead. This week’s edition includes retail REIT bargains, Canadian dividend ETFs and how to not catch a falling knife.

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Got a news tip that you’d like us to look into? E-mail us at tips@globeandmail.com. Need to share documents securely? Reach out via SecureDrop.

TALKING POINTS

Canada’s decision to pull out of the Olympics is to our collective credit

“This isn’t just because one dissenter has had the courage to make the necessary call, though it’s partly that. Our decision lets everyone else off the hook. No one has to go first any more. Expect a drumroll of cancellation announcements to follow.” - Cathal Kelly

‘Social distancing’ is a misnomer: we should be physically distancing, but remain as social as ever

“This pandemic may very well be a time to reflect on how loneliness has itself become epidemic in our society. And, just as with COVID-19, we can take real action to prevent it from spreading.” - Margaret Eaton, CEO, Canadian Mental Health Association

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LIVING BETTER

With the coronavirus top of mind, many people are wondering if they should be eating certain foods, or taking vitamin supplements, to bolster their immune system. What is fundamental to immune health is a balanced, nutrient-packed diet, Leslie Beck writes. Here are key nutrients and foods sources, including:

  • Vitamin A reinforces our body’s barriers against invasion from pathogens. Sources include milk, yogurt, cheese, herring, salmon and tuna.
  • Folate is a B vitamin essential in forming new immune cells. It can be found in citrus fruit, kiwifruit, strawberries, mango, cantaloupe, red and green bell peppers, broccoli and cauliflower.
  • Vitamin D has numerous effects on immune cells, which help to limit inflammation. Because few foods contain it naturally, you may want to consider supplements.

LONG READ FOR A LONG COMMUTE (OR SOME QUIET SELF-ISOLATION TIME)

‘A cruise to nowhere’: Cruise ships remain at sea as countries deny entry to ports

For more than 21 days, Myra Evans and Frank Pasquill have been afloat on the South Pacific on a Holland America cruise ship. (Photo submitted by Myra Evans)

Handout

For more than 21 days, Myra Evans and Frank Pasquill have been afloat in the South Pacific on a Holland America cruise ship, the MS Maasdam. In some ways, things are fine, a “lovely little bubble.” No one on board appears to be sick, and they can move freely, having meals and walking around, getting a little exercise and staring out into the endless blue sea.

They have seen land only once when, waiting anxiously with their luggage packed and after a tense day of negotiations, they were ultimately denied port in Hawaii. Now, they’re en route to San Diego, where they are hoping they may finally be allowed to get off the ship and go home – but already steeling themselves to hear otherwise. “It’s a cruise to nowhere,” Evans said.

Evans and Pasquill, ages 78 and 75, are among 240 Canadians on board the ship, and among thousands of others from all countries currently stranded around the seas as the world scrambles to deal with the spread of the new coronavirus. Read Jana G. Pruden’s full story here.

Evening Update is presented by S.R. Slobodian. If you’d like to receive this newsletter by e-mail every weekday evening, go here to sign up. If you have any feedback, send us a note.

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