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Wage subsidies and wider lanes; In The News for March 30

Last Updated Mar 30, 2020 at 4:30 am EDT

In The News is a roundup of stories from The Canadian Press designed to kickstart your day. Here is what’s on the radar of our editors for the morning of March 30 …

 

COVID-19 in Canada …

OTTAWA — Businesses and employees across Canada reeling from the COVID-19 crisis are expected to hear more about Ottawa’s proposed wage subsidy program today.

When the federal government announced on Friday that it was boosting the subsidy to 75 per cent from the original 10 per cent, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he hoped the details would be hammered out by Monday.

The unprecedented measures being taken to try to slow the spread of the new coronavirus have severely impacted the national economy resulting in staggering job losses. 

 The government has responded, so far, by rolling out a bailout package totalling more than $200 billion.

Another 665 COVID-19 cases were reported in Canada Sunday, pushing the national total to 6,320, including 66 deaths and 485 cases resolved.

And while government officials in Quebec and B.C. have said there are indications social distancing efforts may be paying off in slowing the rampant march of the virus, Canada’s chief public health officer says it’s still too early to make that call. 

On Sunday Dr. Theresa Tam said this week will be “very, very important” for her in terms of looking at those trends. But in the meantime, she again urged Canadians to continue to physically distance themselves from others.

Also this …

CALGARY — Fans of a decision by Calgary officials to block off some traffic lanes to give pedestrians and cyclists extra room for social distancing hope others cities will follow suit.

Starting Saturday along certain Calgary sidewalks and pathways with larger volumes of pedestrian traffic, crews placed pylons and other barricades onto a lane of adjacent roadway for people to step onto so they can safely maintain a two-metre separation from others.

“We’re not encouraging people to go and hang around these places, but what we have done is closed a couple of lanes, again in high-pedestrian-centric locations, just to allow people to have more space between them if they are walking,” explained Sean Somers with the city’s transportation department.

Kimberley Nelson, who represents Alberta on the Velo Canada Bikes board, said she and other cycling advocates began suggesting the idea of closing some traffic lanes a week ago. Since Calgary announced late last week that it would do it, she said councillors in some other Canadian cities are also advocating for it on social media.

Nelson noted many doctors in Calgary cycle to work, adding “Being able to ensure they’re able to do so in a safe manner is really important right now.”

COVID-19 in the U.S. …

WASHINGTON — The U.S. government’s top infectious-disease expert says the country could see 100,000 to 200,000 deaths from the coronavirus outbreak.

Dr. Anthony Fauci said millions could become infected in the United States.

Faced with Fauci’s grim projections and the possibility that even more could die in the U.S. without measures to keep people away from each other, President Donald Trump extended federal guidelines recommending people stay home for another 30 days until the end of April.

The tally kept by Johns Hopkins University shows the U.S. had over 140,000 infections and 2,400 deaths.

COVID-19 around the world …

WUHAN, China — Shopkeepers in the city at the centre of the virus outbreak in China were reopening today but customers were scarce after authorities lifted more of the anti-virus controls that kept tens of millions of people at home for two months.

Many shops have imposed limits on how many people can enter. Shopkeepers have also set up dispensers for hand sanitizer and are checking customers for signs of fever.

Meanwhile Wuhan’s bus and subway service has resumed, easing curbs that cut most access to the city of 11 million people on Jan. 23 as China fought the coronavirus.

That move is welcomed by officials who are under orders to revive manufacturing, retailing and other industries while also preventing a spike in infections as people return to work.

China had suffered 3,186 coronavirus deaths, including 2,547 in Wuhan, as of midnight Sunday, according to the National Health Commission. The country had a total of 81,470 confirmed cases.

Worldwide, more than 33,000 people have died, half of them in Spain and Italy.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 30, 2020.

The Canadian Press