Ontario stores and restaurants teemed with customers Friday as the province lifted some of its COVID-19 restrictions for the first time in months.
Patios that have sat empty since last year were filled with diners and lively conversation once more, while stores had lines snaking down the street as customers rushed to buy goods they’ve had to purchase online or do without.
The return of dining out and in-store retail came as Ontario eased some COVID-19 measures, which now allow up to four people per table or entire households to eat together on outdoor patios. The province is also permitting non-essential retailers to operate at 15 per cent capacity and with no limitations on what goods they can sell.
The provincial government has promised that if vaccinations continue to increase and cases fall, it will loosen restrictions again in 21 days. It’s also keeping an eye on northern Ontario, where the Porcupine health unit chose to pause the easing of restrictions for now as infections there soar.
Ontario on Friday reported four additional deaths and 574 new cases of COVID-19. Hospitalizations in the province stood at 489, with 440 people in intensive care due to COVID-19.
Manitoba, meanwhile, will allow small outdoor gatherings of up to five people starting Saturday — even as new provincial modelling released Friday suggests hospitalizations linked to COVID-19 aren’t finished climbing despite the expectation that daily case counts will continue to drop.
“In the past few days, the overall number of people in ICU seems to have stabilized. However, it’s still an extremely high number and it isn’t sustainable,” Dr. Jazz Atwal, Manitoba’s deputy chief provincial public health officer, said at a news conference.
The province reported 223 new COVID-19 cases and two related deaths on Friday.
Elsewhere in Manitoba, People’s Party of Canada Leader Maxime Bernier was arrested after attending a rally against COVID-19 restrictions in St-Pierre-Jolys, Man.
Bernier was charged under the Public Health Act for assembling in a gathering at an outdoor public place and for failing to self-isolate once he got to Manitoba and will appear before a magistrate, RCMP spokesperson Tara Seel said in an email.
-From The Canadian Press and CBC News, last updated at 6:25 p.m. ET
What’s happening across Canada
As of 6 p.m. ET on Friday, Canada had reported 1,399,716 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with 18,411 considered active. A CBC News tally of deaths stood at 25,886. More than 28 million COVID-19 vaccine doses had been administered so far across the country, according to CBC’s vaccine tracker.
In Quebec on Friday, health officials reported 180 new cases of COVID-19 and one additional death, while Premier François Legault remained vague about when the COVID-19 state of emergency will be lifted despite pressure from the opposition and civil rights groups.
Asked Friday whether the government would lift the emergency order at the end of August, when most Quebecers are expected to be fully vaccinated, Legault was evasive.
“I think that with vaccination, we can be confident it will be quite a bit more normal,” he said of the fall. Legault suggested public health director Dr. Horacio Arruda is waiting for 75 per cent of Quebecers to be fully vaccinated to recommend the end of the state of emergency.
“That’s the aim. We think it’s possible to achieve that by the end of August.”
Nova Scotia on Friday reported eight new cases of COVID-19 and one additional death — a man in his 50s — while New Brunswick reported one new case.
In Newfoundland and Labrador, health officials on Friday reported three new cases of COVID-19.
Nunavut is announcing 4 news case of <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/COVID19?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#COVID19</a> today. These individuals are unvaccinated, and contact tracing is ongoing. There are 6 active cases in Iqaluit.<br><br>So far, 17,885 people in Nunavut have their 1st dose of Moderna & 15,707 are now fully vaccinated.⤵️ <a href=”https://t.co/jAyKbOJFhf”>pic.twitter.com/jAyKbOJFhf</a>
Saskatchewan reported 81 new COVID-19 cases and one related death on Friday, while Alberta reported 170 new cases and three related deaths.
British Columbia, meanwhile, reported 180 new COVID-19 cases and one related death.
On Friday, Nunavut reported four new cases of COVID-19, according to Premier Joe Savikataaq.
There are 3 new cases of COVID-19 in NL<br>-1 in Central, contact of a case but not confirmed part of cluster<br>-2 in Western, both contacts of previous cases, one connected to cluster, one not<br>There are no recoveries, 54 active cases, no one in hospital<a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/covid19nfld?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#covid19nfld</a>
-From CBC News and The Canadian Press, last updated at 6:25 p.m. ET
What’s happening around the world
As of Friday afternoon, the COVID-19 case tracking tool from Johns Hopkins University showed a total of more than 175 million cases reported worldwide.The global death toll stood at more than 3.7 million.
In Europe, leaders from the Group of Seven industrialized nations are set to commit at their summit to sharing at least one billion coronavirus shots with struggling countries around the world — half the doses coming from the U.S. and 100 million from the U.K.
WATCH | What will it take for the pandemic to end globally?
The G7 leaders have faced mounting pressure to outline their global vaccine-sharing plans, especially as inequities in supply around the world have become more pronounced. In the U.S., there is a large vaccine stockpile and the demand for shots has dropped precipitously in recent weeks.
A government official said on background Friday that Canada would share up to 100 million doses of vaccine, with more details expected over the weekend on how the government would meet this target.
The world’s leading democracies are expected to announce a one billion-dose sharing plan at the G7. From <a href=”https://twitter.com/Murray_Brewster?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@Murray_Brewster</a><a href=”https://t.co/6lcgWDnBOi”>https://t.co/6lcgWDnBOi</a>
In the Asia-Pacific region, the Indian state of Bihar has increased its COVID-19 death toll after the discovery of thousands of unreported cases, raising concerns that many more fatalities were not officially recorded. The health department in Bihar, one of the poorest states, on Thursday revised its COVID-19 fatality count to more than 9,429 from 5,424 — a jump of more than 70 per cent.
Officials said the 3,951 unreported fatalities had occurred in May and reflect “deaths reported at private hospitals, in transit to health facilities, under home isolation and those dying of post COVID-19 complications.”
Health experts say many COVID-19 fatalities remain unrecorded in India, more so during the latest surge in April and May, when hospitals ran unbearably full and oxygen supplies were low.
In the Americas, Chile has announced a blanket lockdown across its capital again and said it had approved the emergency use of the vaccine developed by Belgian laboratory Janssen for U.S. pharmaceutical company Johnson & Johnson.
In Africa, Tanzania has asked the International Monetary Fund for a $571 million US loan to help it tackle the challenges caused by the pandemic.
In the Middle East, people in Kuwait were seeking second doses of the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine, local media reported, as the ministry of health embarks on a major push to get more people their critical second shot.
-From The Associated Press, Reuters and CBC News, last updated at 3:15 p.m. ET