Holiday Brief: See ya, 2021!



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Good day.

— Ontario turns the page: Ontario’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Kieran Moore, announced several changes to the province’s handling of the pandemic on Thursday, including that vaccinated Ontarians who develop COVID-19 symptoms should now isolate for five days instead of 10, and that PCR testing will now be limited to high-risk individuals, such as nursing-home residents and staff. Students’ return to school is also being pushed back two days to Wednesday, Jan. 5, and sporting events and concerts will be capped at whichever is lower: 50 per cent capacity or 1,000 people. The Toronto Star has more details.

— Bedtime’s back in Quebec: Several measures to curb COVID’s spread are back in Quebec, including a 10 p.m. curfew. Restaurants have also been ordered to close their dining rooms, while in-person classes at schools, colleges, and universities won’t resume until at least Jan. 17. Nor are places of worship allowed to open, except for funerals with 25 attendees or fewer. That story is from the Canadian Press.

— Alberta follows suit: Also on Thursday, Alberta announced that kindergarten to Grade 12 students won’t resume in-person learning until at least Jan. 10. That’s from the Canadian Press, as well.

— Tough love: Federal Employment Minister Carla Qualtrough says unvaccinated Canadians might be ineligible for COVID-19 benefits for the foreseeable future. “As long as the collective public health of Canadians is jeopardized, and our economy is thereby threatened, (we’ll) have to keep public-health policy top of mind in our employment and labour and economic decision-making,” Qualtrough said. “And I don’t know how long that will be.” CP has that story, too. 

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AROUND THE WORLD

— Good news from Africa: The South African government says it managed the Omicron variant in such a way that relatively few people died, which should give other countries — including Canada — hope they can do the same. That was reported by the New York Times.

— Sacré bleu! Even though France is one of Europe’s most vaccinated countries, and French President Emmanuel Macron promised that life had returned to normal, Omicron has swept through the population with unexpected speed, creating new urgency for booster shots. The New York Times has more.

— No love lost: Reuters is reporting that, during their 50-minute phone call on Thursday, Russian President Vladimir Putin told U.S. President Joe Biden that the latter’s threats of sanctions in reaction to Russia’s military buildup at the Ukrainian border could cause the countries to sever ties.

IN OTHER HEADLINES

ICYMI FROM IPOLITICS

CARTOON OF THE DAY

(Theo Moudakis)

THE KICKER

How’s this for irony? The ball dropping at midnight tonight over New York’s Times Square — thus marking the start of the pandemic’s third year — will be sponsored by Carnival Cruises, on whose boats COVID spread rampantly in March 2020. The Sun has details.

Have a good New Year’s Eve.

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