British Columbia is joining the list of provinces gradually easing restrictions this week. Premier John Horgan and Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced Monday the province will move to Step 2 on Tuesday, given a drop in COVID-19 case counts and hospitalizations and a rise in vaccination rates.
Under the eased restrictions, bigger outdoor and indoor gatherings will be allowed and indoor fitness classes can resume, as can recreational travel around B.C.
The four-step reopening plan released last month said the province could move to Step 2 on June 15 provided case counts and hospitalizations drop and if 65 per cent of eligible adults had received at least one dose of vaccine.
WATCH | B.C. is reopening even more — but what if you’re not ready?
The province reported a total of 277 cases for the past three days, including 96 new cases from Saturday, 113 from Sunday and 68 for Monday — the lowest daily rate since last August. There were four related deaths for the same time period.
Quebec is also easing COVID-19-related restrictions in some parts of the province, including Montreal and Quebec City.
As of Monday morning, all of the regions that were previously classified as orange zones on the province’s pandemic alert system have been downgraded to yellow.
Those include Montreal, Quebec City, Laval, Montérégie to the south of Montreal, the Laurentians, Lanaudière, Estrie, Outaouais and parts of Bas-St-Laurent.
The change means people from two different households can gather indoors, outdoor team sports can resume and more people can attend weddings, funerals and religious services.
Quebec has reported fewer than 200 COVID-19 cases a day for more than a week, and hospitalizations have been falling steadily. Health officials in the province on Monday reported one additional death and 123 new cases of COVID-19.
The update came as officials announced that border restrictions between Ontario and Quebec would be lifted later this week after months of restrictions against non-essential travel. Travel from Ontario to Quebec has been restricted since April 19 due to concerns about the transmission of COVID-19 variants.
WATCH | The plan for Quebec:
Quebec’s Public Security Department said the reopening will mean an end to the “sporadic” border controls along the provincial boundary.
-From CBC News and The Canadian Press, last updated at 2 p.m. ET
What’s happening across Canada
As of 8:45 p.m. ET on Monday, Canada had reported 1,403,285 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with 16,270 considered active. A CBC News tally of deaths stood at 25,944. More than 29.4 million COVID-19 vaccine doses had been administered so far across the country, according to CBC’s vaccine tracker.
In Ontario, more people will be able to book an accelerated second dose of COVID-19 vaccine as of Monday. Those who received a first jab of the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine can now book their second shot after eight weeks. The Ontario government had previously set a minimum wait time of 12 weeks for people who took a first dose of AstraZeneca.
The province, which entered the first phase of its reopening plan on Friday, reported four additional deaths on Monday and 447 new cases of COVID-19.
In the North, there were no new cases of COVID-19 reported in Nunavut on Monday, Premier Joe Savikataaq said on Twitter. Masks were made mandatory Monday across the territory to increase protection against further spread of COVID-19.
The chief public health officer also confirmed there were no additional cases of COVID-19 at Iqaluit’s Aqsarniit middle school after two students tested positive.
“The risk of exposure to other students at the school is considered low, and it is safe for staff and students from Cohort B to resume classes tomorrow,” said Michael Patterson.
The Northwest Territories reported no new cases, while Yukon, which declared an outbreak in Whitehorse over the weekend, had not yet provided updated figures for the day. “The outbreak is linked to youth and adults who are not yet vaccinated,” said a statement from Yukon health officials released on Sunday.
In Atlantic Canada, Nova Scotia reported eight new cases of COVID-19 on Monday, and New Brunswick reported one. Newfoundland and Labrador had four new cases.
There were no new cases of reported in Prince Edward Island by Monday evening.
In the Prairie provinces, Manitoba reported two deaths and 124 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday. Chief Provincial Public Health Officer Dr. Brent Roussin told reporters during a briefing that all of the patients currently in ICU with COVID-19 had not been vaccinated.
WATCH | How Manitoba is dealing with the delta variant:
Saskatchewan, meanwhile, reported 55 new cases of COVID-19 and one additional death on Monday. As of Monday, anyone 50 years and older can book their second dose vaccine appointment. Second doses are also open to anyone who received their first dose on or before April 15 regardless of age, and to anyone aged 18 and older in the north.
In Alberta, Premier Jason Kenney laid out the details on Monday of a lottery that will make three $1 million prizes available to Albertans who have had at least a first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. The province reported 115 new cases of COVID-19 Monday and one related death.
-From CBC News and The Canadian Press, last updated at 6:45 p.m. ET
What’s happening around the world
WATCH | The debate about COVID-19 vaccine passports:
As of early Monday afternoon, more than 176 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported around the world, according to a tracking site published by Johns Hopkins University in the U.S. The reported global death toll stood at more than 3.8 million.
World Health Organization director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at a briefing on Monday that he welcomed recent announcements from G7 nations about vaccine donations, but he cautioned that more needed to be done. He reiterated his call to ensure vaccines get to health workers around the world, saying people on the front lines of the pandemic must get priority access.
Tedros said that new case numbers from around the world reported to the WHO have declined for seven weeks in a row, but he noted that deaths aren’t falling as quickly.
“The number of deaths reported last week was similar to the previous week,” he said.
“More than 10,000 people are dying every day. During this press conference alone, more than 420 people will die. These communities need vaccines, and they need them now, not next year”-<a href=”https://twitter.com/DrTedros?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@DrTedros</a> <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/VaccinEquity?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#VaccinEquity</a> <a href=”https://t.co/LRUEz7bixg”>https://t.co/LRUEz7bixg</a>
In Europe, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson confirmed Monday that the next planned relaxation of coronavirus restrictions in England will be delayed by four weeks, until July 19, as a result of the spread of the Delta variant.
“I think it is sensible to wait just a little longer,” he said. “Now is the time to ease off the accelerator, because by being cautious now we have the chance in the next four weeks to save many thousands of lives by vaccinating millions more people.”
WATCH | Johnson explains delay in further reopening:
German officials on Monday said the country’s coronavirus tracing app has helped alert some 200,000 people who later tested positive for COVID-19 that they’d been in contact with an infected person. The country’s Corona-Warn-App has been downloaded more than 28 million times since it was launched almost a year ago.
Moscow will give away cars in a prize draw for residents who get the COVID-19 shot in an effort to speed up the slow rate of vaccinations.
In the Asia-Pacific region, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said he felt reassured by other Group of Seven leaders showing “firm support” to his determination to host the Tokyo Olympics next month. Suga told reporters while in Britain for the G7 Summit that he explained to other leaders Japan’s commitment to ensure through virus control measures that the Games would be safe and secure.
“I’m feeling reassured by the firm support I received from all the other leaders,” Suga said Sunday before heading back to Tokyo. “I have renewed my determination to make the Tokyo Games a success at any cost.”
Many Indian states eased restrictions, including Delhi, as the number of new infections dropped to the lowest level in more than two months.
In Africa, Kenya has received a $750 million US loan from the World Bank to support its budget and help the East African economy recover from the effects of the pandemic, the multilateral lender said.
In the Americas, Mexican health officials said the country will receive its first shipment of J&J vaccines on Tuesday.
Latin American nations’ capacity to fight corruption diminished over the past year as the pandemic absorbed resources and offered politicians in some countries the space to weaken judicial bodies, according to a report.
In the Middle East, Iran’s state TV is reporting that the country has approved an emergency use of its first domestically developed coronavirus vaccine that could bring the hardest-hit country in the Middle East closer to inoculating its citizens against COVID-19.
The emergency authorization was approved after the country faced problems with importing enough vaccines.
Lebanon has vaccinated a daily record number of people against COVID-19, raising the total number of shots administered around the country against the virus to more than one million.
The Health Ministry said nearly 23,000 people were vaccinated on Sunday alone in different parts of the country on the third weekend of a COVID-19 vaccination “marathon” to speed up inoculations.The ministry invited all residents who are 53 and older, as well as people with special needs who are 16 and older, to get Pfizer-BioNTech shots.
-From Reuters, The Associated Press and CBC News, last updated at 5:25 p.m. ET.
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