“I can’t express how hard this news was to hear,” said Henry, his voice broken. “I share your grief. They are our brothers and sisters, our colleagues… our friends and our community. ”
Relaxation of restrictions on restaurants
Henry also announced Thursday that he is lifting restrictions on restaurants that require them to operate at 50% of their regular capacity.
A modified public health order requires restaurants to determine how many people they can serve while maintaining a distance of two meters between groups. Operators must monitor their premises to ensure that capacity is not exceeded and that these distances are respected, including in the queues.
The ordinance says that there cannot be more than six people in a group and if a distance of two meters cannot be maintained between the tables, a Plexiglas partition must be installed.
Buffets and self-service stations are allowed to operate as long as there is a hand-washing facility or hand sanitizer on hand and signs reminding customers to wash their hands before touching anything is.
Thursday’s COVID-19 update does not include any new outbreaks in health care facilities or in the community, but public health officials continue to face five active long-term care outbreaks.
To date, 560 people have been infected as a result of long-term care epidemics, including 341 residents and 219 staff. Health Minister Adrian Dix said work on implementing an ordinance limiting long-term care staff to one facility is now 96% complete.
At least two new clusters of cases announced in recent days have been linked to large family reunions.
Henry reiterates his call for decriminalization
As she spoke of the increase in overdose deaths, Henry acknowledged that the COVID-19 pandemic has only exacerbated the crisis. More and more people are using drugs because of physical distance measures, she said, and the toxicity of drugs is increasing.
Henry said fear of the criminal justice system is a major contributor to the problem, and reiterated his call for decriminalizing possession of illegal drugs for personal drug use.
She urged people who use drugs to call 811 for help, use overdose prevention sites, and look for the legal prescription alternatives that are now available.
Henry also called on family and friends to reach out to their loved ones who use illegal substances and to let them know that it’s okay to talk about it. She said that it is impossible to help if there is no communication.
In other news, a study funded by the World Health Organization confirms that masks are effective both in health care and in community settings.
Researchers in British Columbia are working to find another way to test COVID-19. The virus was mainly tested by nasal swab, but if it could be detected in saliva, the test results could be obtained in a few minutes and read on a mobile phone.
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