Today’s coronavirus news: B.C. restaurant defies vaccination rules; Ontario reports 654 new cases of COVID-19 Saturday; capacity limits lift in Ontario cinemas, sports venues

The latest coronavirus news from Canada and around the world Saturday. This file will be updated throughout the day. Web links to longer stories if available.

3:56 p.m.: Saskatchewan’s COVID-19 provincial dashboard reported 502 new cases on Saturday as the province with the worst numbers in Canada recently continues the trend.

Five new deaths raise the province’s total to 746 and active cases are up 106 to 4,798, though the number hospitalized dropped by 11 to 332.

One silver lining: the number of vaccinations reported Saturday was 5,681, the highest daily figure in Saskatchewan since July.

2:43 p.m.: New Brunswick is reporting 100 new cases of COVID-19, 71 of which involve people who are not yet fully vaccinated.

In a news release Saturday, officials say 66 of the cases involve people who haven’t received any shots, while five of them have received one dose of a vaccine. Public health says active reported cases in the province have risen to 929, with 56 people in hospital.

Authorities are also advising against unnecessary travel into certain areas of the province including the Moncton and Edmundston regions.

The fourth wave of COVID-19 has hit New Brunswick much harder than the first three, despite nearly 82 per cent of eligible New Brunswickers being fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

2:16 p.m.: A showdown is brewing in rural British Columbia between a restaurant and local health authorities over the popular establishment’s refusal to implement provincial proof-of-vaccination measures.

Muriel Young, manager and co-owner of Rolly’s restaurant in Hope, said the restaurant won’t be closing its doors or enforcing the province’s weeks-old requirement to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination upon entry for non-essential services, even after local authorities ordered it to do so.

“Your health status is none of my business,” Young said. “What if I were to ask you if you were circumcised, that’s your private business.” Five establishments that have said they will not require proof of vaccination have been hit with fines, according to the Ministry of Public Safety.

Rolly’s has quickly become the focal point of the issue after refusing to institute the measures — then refusing to close down when ordered by the Fraser Health Authority, and having its business licence pulled by the district of Hope for six months. The provincial liquor authorities also revoked its liquor licence Friday.

Read the full story here.

1:19 p.m.: A Swedish study found that a modest $24 (U.S.) incentive increased vaccination rates, lending support to measures that aim to get more people to take COVID-19 jabs by handing out cash.

The study, led by researchers at Lund University, found that the vaccination rate increased by four per cent among participants who were offered 200 Swedish kronor, or $24, to get the jab. The effect was seen across all ages, genders and levels of education, Erik Wengstrom, professor of economics at Lund University, said.

“This indicates that monetary incentives have the potential to increase the rate among people regardless of background,” Wengstrom said in a statement. “The results also show that the incentives have an effect even in countries with relatively high vaccination levels, such as Sweden.”

Many countries have offered a wide array of incentives to boost people’s willingness to take the jab, from lottery tickets with large cash prizes to discounts on pizza and flights. After U.S. President Joe Biden called for local officials to offer $100 to anyone who gets vaccinated, states including New York and Louisiana have followed suit.

12:26 p.m.: Quebec is reporting 602 new cases of COVID-19 and two additional deaths.

In a news release Saturday, the province says 297 people are in hospital with 84 of them in intensive care.

On Friday, Quebec’s public health institute said there were fewer workplace COVID-19 outbreaks for the second week running, which ended Oct. 2.

The health department says 13,738 doses of vaccine were administered on Friday. The public health institute says 89.8 per cent of Quebec residents 12 and over have received at least one dose of vaccine and 86.3 per cent are considered adequately vaccinated.

10:55 a.m.: Ontario is reporting another 654 COVID-19 cases and two more deaths, according to its latest report released Saturday morning.

There were 577 resolved cases, and active cases have climbed by 75 to 4,592. The seven-day average stands at 544 new cases daily, down from 607 last Saturday.

Locally, the day’s numbers include 123 new cases in Toronto, 80 in Peel Region, 66 in York Region, 50 in Ottawa and 47 in Hamilton.

Ontario has administered 37,715 vaccine doses since its last daily update, with 22,042,483 vaccines given in total as of 8 p.m. the previous night.

Read the full story here.

10:27 a.m.: There are 654 new cases of COVID-19 in Ontario on Saturday.

Of those, 464 cases are in individuals who are not fully vaccinated or have an unknown vaccination status and 190 are in fully vaccinated individuals.

Provincially, 22,042,483 vaccine doses have been administered — 86.9% of Ontarians 12+ have one dose and 82.1% have two doses. Then, 258 people are hospitalized with the virus, 219 are not fully vaccinated or have an unknown vaccination status and 39 are fully vaccinated.

Finally, 153 people are in ICU due to the coronavirus, 139 are not fully vaccinated or have an unknown vaccination status and 14 are fully vaccinated.

10:08 a.m.: Graham Dickson and his partner, Laura Weins, found out they were expecting a baby on the same day Saskatchewan declared a state of emergency at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic last year.

The province is now in the fourth wave and 11-month-old Helen, who was born premature with medical complications, can’t get the care she needs because of the strain on health care.

Earlier this week, the Saskatoon family showed up for their daughter’s regular physiotherapy appointment and was told it would be her last.

“Occupational therapists and physical therapists were being redeployed elsewhere in response to COVID,” Dickson said in a phone interview. “It was a bit of a shock to us, because it was the last thing we had.”

Saskatchewan is facing a shortage of front-line health-care workers as hospitals are full of COVID-19 patients, most of them unvaccinated. The Saskatchewan Party government has redeployed health-care workers and postponed surgeries and other health-care services to help with the surge.

Read the full story here.

9:33 a.m.: Singapore will allow vaccinated travel to and from nine more countries — Canada, the U.S., the U.K., Denmark, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain and South Korea — without having to quarantine. The countries qualify as of Oct. 19, except for South Korea, which starts Nov. 15, the government said Saturday.

Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said in a televised address that Singapore can’t stay “locked down and closed off indefinitely,” pushing ahead with the strategy of living with COVID-19 despite a record surge in cases.

Singaporeans need to “respect COVID-19, but we must not be paralyzed by fear,” Lee said, outlining a “new normal,” possibly after three to six months, where Singapore will ease off restrictions, have light social distancing measures in place, and cases come down to hundreds a day.

7:56 a.m.: Capacity limits no longer apply for some Ontario venues that are asking patrons to show proof of vaccination.

Cinemas, theatres, concert and spectator sports venues and car and horse racing tracks are allowed to open at full capacity as of this morning.

The province says there have been few outbreaks in the selected settings and most other public health measures such as masks remain in place.

Physical distancing requirements are lifting along with capacity limits with some exceptions such as indoor meeting and event spaces, which must still maintain two metres between people.

The provincial government says it’s making the changes based on high vaccination rates, stable public health indicators and the vaccine certificate policy.

Capacity rules are still in effect in other places requiring proof of vaccination such as gyms and restaurants.

7:55 a.m.: When Russian regulators approved the country’s own coronavirus vaccine, it was a moment of national pride, and the Pavlov family was among those who rushed to take the injection. But international health authorities have not yet given their blessing to the Sputnik V shot.

So when the family from Rostov-on-Don wanted to visit the West, they looked for a vaccine that would allow them to travel freely — a quest that brought them to Serbia, where hundreds of Russian citizens have flocked in recent weeks to receive Western-approved COVID-19 shots.

Serbia, which is not a member of the European Union, is a convenient choice for vaccine-seeking Russians because they can enter the allied Balkan nation without visas and because it offers a wide choice of Western-made shots. Organized tours for Russians have soared, and they can be spotted in the capital, Belgrade, at hotels, restaurants, bars and vaccination clinics.

Saturday 7:52 a.m.: Bars in Sao Paulo are full again for evening happy hours, lawmakers in the capital of Brasilia have nearly done away with video sessions via Zoom, and Rio de Janeiro’s beaches are packed. Calls for strict social distancing seem but a memory.

Brazil appears intent on returning to pre-pandemic normalcy, even as its death toll tops 600,000, according to official data on Friday from the Health Ministry. Relief in both COVID-19 cases and deaths have been particularly welcome given experts’ warnings that the Delta variant would produce another wave of destruction in the country with the second-most victims. So far, that hasn’t materialized.

The country’s average daily death toll has hovered around 500 for a month, down sharply from more than 3,000 in April. Almost 45% of the population is fully vaccinated, and a booster shot is being administered to the elderly. A greater percentage of Brazilians are at least partially vaccinated compared to Americans or Germans, according to Our World in Data, an online research site.

Improvement has encouraged mayors and governors to admit fans into soccer matches, and let bars and restaurants stay open until the wee hours. Some are even contemplating the end of mask mandates, which people often ignore already.

Read Friday’s coronavirus news.

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