The latest on the coronavirus outbreak for Tuesday, March 24
- House of Commons suspended amid COVID-19 aid package negotiations.
- Most premiers don't think Emergencies Act is needed yet, Trudeau says.
- Tokyo Olympics officially postponed to 2021.
- India's PM orders 'total' lockdown; China to lift lockdown in most of Hubei province.
- Read more: Here's the latest on what's happening in Canada and around the world.
House of Commons suspended amid COVID-19 aid package negotiations
Shortly after House of Commons proceedings began today, the chamber suspended itself while the Liberal government and opposition parties negotiate the finer points of a bill to deliver aid to Canadians during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Opposition Conservatives have said they are not willing to vote for the bill as it is written. The Liberal government has already backed away from one controversial proposal in the bill — part 2, which would have given the government sweeping new powers to spend, borrow and tax Canadians for 21 months without parliamentary approval.
The negotiations between the parties are still going on and the Commons will be suspended until there is a deal reached to define the powers Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his cabinet can use to spend public money during this crisis.
Most premiers don't think Emergencies Act is needed yet, Trudeau says
Every province and territory has declared either a state of emergency or a public health emergency, but Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said most premiers do not think it's necessary "at this time" to invoke the federal Emergencies Act.
Trudeau said invoking the act would give the federal government special powers to co-ordinate and rearrange logistical supply chains — but most premiers on the call late Monday told the PM they don't think that's needed right now.
"I impressed on them the need to further co-ordinate and provide data on things like how many ventilators they have, so that we can make sure that they are going to the areas — maybe not in their province, but next door — that need them the most and ensure a better level of flow of emergency equipment to the places that need it," Trudeau said today.
Tokyo Olympics officially postponed to 2021 — now what?
Athletes still have unanswered questions despite confirmation from the International Olympic Committee that the 2020 Tokyo Games will be postponed because of the ongoing pandemic.
"The big uncertainty is what does qualification look like?" said Canadian wrestler Erica Wiebe, who won gold at the Rio Olympics in 2016. "What is the actual postponement start date? Will international federations set up competitions between now and a 2021 Games to mitigate lost competition opportunities leading into a 2021 Games?
There are also two major international events set for the summer of 2021 that will undoubtedly be impacted by the postponement: the world athletics and world aquatics championships. World Athletics, track and field's governing body, said it's talking with organizers about alternative dates for the track world championships set for Eugene, Ore.
Why police are reluctant to ticket, arrest COVID-19 rule-breakers
So far, the threats of stiff fines and even criminal charges for those flouting COVID-19 measures appear to be mostly tough talk, as authorities opt for persuasion over punishment.
"We're not as concerned with enforcement so much as the priority being getting that message across, because compliance is really our goal here," said Les Parker, a spokesperson for the Regina Police Service.
A survey of select police forces across Canada finds little evidence that officers are busting up large gatherings or ticketing business owners who defy government calls to shutter non-essential services while the outbreak runs its course.
"We're being given that tool. However, it's the type of tool that we never wish to use, that we don't intend to use," said Insp. André Durocher of Montreal's police service. "The instructions that have been given to our police officers is this is a tool to be used as an extreme last resort."
There is also the question of whether any of these extraordinary anti-COVID measures would actually stand up in court. Martha Jackman, a law professor at the University of Ottawa, said the fines and restrictions may well end up being challenged on constitutional grounds.
Should healthy people wear masks while in public?
No, according to Dr. Mark Loeb, because there's a shortage of masks and healthy people don't need them.
Loeb, a professor of pathology and clinical epidemiology at McMaster University in Hamilton, said people should be social distancing so they're never in a position where they might be exposed to a cough or sneeze from someone with COVID-19.
Meanwhile, health-care professionals, who certainly will be exposed, are running out. "There's a very limited supply that's getting more limited," he said.
Researchers and public health officials say improper use of face masks — such as not changing disposable masks or not handwashing — could potentially increase risk of disease transmission.
Beating the coronavirus — literally
Cathy MacDonald and her daughters in Quyon, Que., created a COVID-19-shaped piñata as a birthday gift for a friend. Inside are wrapped candies and rolls of toilet paper.
"Although not an amusing situation we find ourselves in, the objective was to try and 'kill' the virus," MacDonald said.
This DIY project is one of several examples of people in the Ottawa region getting creative during the outbreak. Other readers submitted photos of various arts and crafts, an outdoor workout setup made of repurposed wood and a ballet barre built out of PVC piping.
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With files from CBC News, The Canadian Press, The Associated Press and Reuters