January 20 COVID-19 Update: Here’s the latest on the coronavirus in British Columbia

Ontario Premier Doug Ford is expected to announce an easing of lockdown restrictions starting Jan. 31.

He told Ottawa radio station CFRA he would have news about the change in the level of restrictions this week, and a senior government source said that announcement was coming today.

The prime minister must ease restrictions until February before a full reopening in March, sources told CTV.

The current closures are set to be replaced by the reduced capacity limits put in place in December. Among the eased restrictions, Ontario will allow restaurants to reopen at 50% capacity on January 31.

A news conference is scheduled for 11:30 a.m., featuring Health Minister Christine Elliott and Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Kieran Moore.

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— Canadian Press

Vancouver police commission to review staff vaccination policy after complaints

The Vancouver Police Board will review its decision not to mandate vaccines for VPD members after three complaints criticizing the policy, including one from a family member of one of its own officers.

“I am a resident of Vancouver and a family member of a VPD member,” read one of the complaints. “I would like to express my disappointment with the decision not to require VPD officers to be vaccinated.

“This decision further reduces public confidence in the VPD, at a time when trust is in short supply.”

The council plans to discuss the decision to allow an exemption from the city’s vaccination mandate for frontline police officers at a meeting Thursday.

Under current policy, Vancouver police are encouraged to get vaccinated and had to provide proof by the end of last year. But unvaccinated officers are still considered “fit for duty” if they undergo rapid testing for COVID-19. It is out of step with many other Canadian police departments and with the city’s broad personnel mandate.

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—Joseph Ruttle

Product prices in BC set to rise as vaccination mandate comes into effect for truckers

British Columbia cooks may have to embrace cabbage and kale this winter as a vaccination mandate for truckers crossing the Canada-U.S. border is expected to intensify supply chain issues and drive up the prices of food.

The federal mandate, which took effect Jan. 15, requires Canadian truckers returning to Canada to be vaccinated to avoid quarantine, while unvaccinated U.S. truckers are turned away at the border. The United States is expected to enact its own vaccination mandate on January 22, taking up to 16,000 drivers off the road, according to the Canadian Trucking Association.

“Without the mandate, there was already stress on the supply chain,” said Mick Tkac, chief product officer for SPUD.ca, a grocery delivery service specializing in local and organic foods. He cited cold weather in North America and staffing shortages due to COVID-19 for the planned price increases.

“There is a shortage of truckers in Canada and the United States, so we have seen late arrivals, small gaps (in product availability) and wholesalers informing us of trucks that have been canceled at the last minute” , did he declare.

Price increases should follow. Shipping a truckload of fresh produce from California or Arizona to Canada now costs $9,500, compared to an average of $7,000, according to North American Produce Buyers. This equates to an additional charge of 12 cents Canadian per head of lettuce.

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—Glenda Luymes

Unnecessary restrictions on long-term care visits are causing anguish for BC families, advocates say

Families, seniors advocates and caregiver organizations say the province’s policy on long-term care visits is outdated and needs to change.

They say rules that limit who can spend time with loved ones in long-term care facilities have unnecessarily restricted access with devastating results for residents and their families.

“I have memories of my father trying to force his way through a window, upset that he couldn’t reach me during a window visit,” said Becky Reichert, whose father died in 2020 but whose the mother remains in long-term care at the same facility in Vancouver.

Reichert said she was finally granted essential visitor status to see her father shortly before his death.

“I wasn’t deemed essential until he didn’t respond and that’s something I’ll never get over,” she said. “And now I feel like I’m back in 2020.”

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—Lisa Cordasco

NHL, NHLPA to eliminate testing in asymptomatic people

Maybe it’s a sign that life, or at least life in the National Hockey League, is getting back to normal.

With most teams dealing with COVID-19 and the Omicron Variant outbreak, and the mild impact of the virus, the NHL announced on Tuesday it would halt testing of asymptomatic people after the All-Star break earlier this month. next and that testing will only be required for cross-border travel and if a person develops symptoms.

A positive result would still require entering COVID-19 protocol and a five-day isolation period for a vaccinated individual – which had been reduced by 10 days by the NHL in late December.

All of this is waiting for positive test results to continue to decline within the NHL and requires approval from NHL and NHLPA medical experts by Jan. 31.

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— Postmedia news

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